A young man dances awkwardly in his kitchen. A fingernail is painted. A mobile phone is dropped into a glass of fresh milk and promptly applauded, before a mango is crushed by an all-powerful fist. The video for Tessel’s new single, Family Time, is an entertaining romp through the mind of a young indie-pop band – full of primary colours, beach aesthetics, and a notably deadpan, maybe “Continental” style. But whilst the world of music is so saturated with guitar bands, Tessel already face a tough task in rising above the pack.
From the opening melody, Family Time comes together effortlessly, making use of light, jangly guitars and bossa nova tinged drums. The sound is indicative of slacker rock, the kind made popular in recent years by Mac DeMarco – whom the Dutch quartet list as a big influence. Yet for all its musical serenity, Family Time conveys a glum view on life; Beneath the surface is a rather absurd tale of a person fleeing suburbia, leaving behind family dinners and parked cars on the driveway. The dissonance is welcome, although it could go further. Without lines such as “all I ever know, great moments will pass” the song risks becoming overly sentimental.
Those looking for drama and aggro will not find it with Family Time. It’s not that Tessel are exercising restraint; they seem to revel in creating this steady, surf-inspired indie-pop. And this contentment is their greatest strength. The result is understated, woozy, and – much like the band themselves – quietly endearing. Family Time is not a grand announcement of Utrecht’s next big thing, but a polite, welcome introduction to the city’s latest outfit, Tessel.