Bradford Cox’s score for the documentary Teenage is heavy on sparkling, looping compositions. ”Dream Logic” and “Doctor October” are what you might expect from him going in: the former a jaunty track indebted to 50s/60s rock and roll, with a dreamy, modern finish that recalls Halcyon Digest's “Memory Boy,” the latter a decayed piece of bebop you could have heard on an Atlas Sound record. While Cox's score shows some 50s/60s influence, when the teenage culture really began to establish itself, the compositions are modern, not soundtracking generations accurately, but representing the concept of the teenager, regardless of era, with a bubbly now-ness.
"Kate," a song on the soundtrack, sticks out for two reasons: its vocals and its post-punk sound—which recalls the Bush Tetras and Siouxsie and the Banshees. For the first few listens of Teenage, I actually thought this was written by Cox and sung by a different vocalist. I was really impressed with him for nailing the early-80s, NYC-post-punk sound. But I was totally wrong. It sounds so authentic because it’s a song from 1980 by a 12-year-old(!!!) named Chandra Oppenheim. Using her first name only for her nom de guerre, Chandra released her sole album, Transportation, in 1980, with “Kate” as its single. While “Kate” sounds of its era—not a bad thing—it provides a striking, welcome dose of teenage attitude (and jealousy) to the soundtrack, thanks to its style and Chandra’s spiky delivery.
Cantor Records reissued Transportation, in 2008, but it appears to have been a limited release and, thus, tricky to track down. However, you can stream it in its entirety on YouTube. If you like the aforementioned Bush Tetras and Siouxsie and the Banshees, or ESG, or the New York Noise compilation from Soul Jazz Records, I recommend checking it out. There’s also a nice little interview from The Fader, published back in 2009, with the now-40-something Chandra.