Teen Idle is the musical moniker of NJ-based songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sara Abdelbarry. In middle school, Sara was convinced she would become a cardiac surgeon – conveniently, her craft still gets to the heart, just with sound instead of a scalpel.
At age 9, Sara picked up the guitar, and she hasn’t stopped ever since. Inspired by the multitude of pop and rock artists she was glued to MTV watching in elementary school, Sara knew there was a special magic about music she had to experience for herself.
Growing up in an Egyptian-American family, Arabic music was always playing around the house during her childhood, whether on an 8-track or just from her parents and grandparents singing in the kitchen. In 2nd grade, Sara started buying CDs to entertain herself on her school bus rides to elementary school, piquing her interest in pop melodies – Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape” and Kelly Clarkson’s early albums were some highlights.
At age 16, after getting music lessons from some of the most talented musicians on the Jersey Shore, Sara felt like she needed to write her own music. After discovering “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac, everything changed – the intricacy and intimacy of that song made Sara want to write ballads as emotional as theirs. Shortly after, she finished her first song.
Meshing the heartfelt nature of influences like Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham with the grittiness and abrasiveness of grunge and the lovelorn tendency of ’60s acts like The Ronettes, Teen Idle makes emotional rock music with a statement (and a cinematic tendency).
In 2020, Teen Idle’s first EP, Insomniac Dreams, was released on NYC indie label Green Witch Recordings. Premiering to acclaim early on, the album charted at #10 on the WRSU charts and remained in the station’s Top 30 for 5 weeks straight. Singles from the album also played on KEXP, KXLU, and DKFM. The album was also released on CD by Sunday Records, home of Slowdive’s earliest records.
Teen Idle - Saccharine
Teen Idle - Birthday Cake (Live - Lampshade Sessions)
What the Press has to Say
“Expanding the sonic palette that began with ‘Birthday Cake’ and carried over into ‘Norway’, Teen Idle’s latest single ‘Saccharine’ is some next level musical mastery from an artist who is already proving to be THE one to watch in 2023 with each passing release.”
“‘Saccharine’ might be the most intricate yet in Sara Abdelbarry’s aural arsenal. A track that’s vibrant, vivacious, and glistening seemingly all at the same time and fully utilizing the ‘multi-instrumentalist’ tag that Abdelbarry justly brandishes, ‘Saccharine’ is playful yet poised bringing some soothing (And sexy?) saxophone sounds into the arena along with a bouncing bass line and Samir Tawalare’s divine drumming once again accenting the underlying grooves.”
“‘Birthday Cake’ offers a window into the way Abdelbarry bends and builds upon personal stories to better explore their themes, showing how embellishment and exaggeration can better communicate a truth.”
“I have a bizarre and intense fondness for New Jersey, particularly the Asbury Park area. That is in part due to the amazing music coming out of Asbury Park, and the latest artist we’ve discovered is Teen Idle. The musical project of multi-instrumentalist Sara Abdelbarry has just released a new single, “Birthday Cake.” It’s one of those songs that sounds completely unique, even if it’s made up of parts you’re intimately familiar with. The song has a great 90’s slacker and bedroom indie feel mixed with the modern indie rock/folk/alt-pop sound of artists like Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers. Plus, “Birthday Cake” sounds wonderfully DIY the way Colleen Green and Little Hag do. I also have a very personal love of artists with unique and non-traditional voices that are still compelling, like J Mascis and Stephin Merritt, and Abdelbarry has that vocal quality.”
“The latest single “Birthday Cake” from Teen Idle is rich with authenticity and honesty. Sara Abdelbarry has crafted an absolute gem. “Birthday Cake ” from Teen Idle is a melodic stroke of genius. We were literally hanging on every word and every note.”
“When I saw Teen Idle, I was enthralled by the atmospheric guitar playing and mood she set.”
“Birthday Cake builds and builds toward a subtle yet succinct culmination that chooses a tender approach over a thunderous one. When the drums from Samir Tawalare (Abdelbarry handled the rest of the instrumentation) eventually chime in, it’s a flutter rather than a fury that truly makes this debut ditty stand out. Then there’s Abdelbarry’s voice which is a revelation that harnesses a fragile vibrato in such a meaningful way as it maneuvers across the rhythm and melodies most excellently, effortlessly and elegantly.
–Rock and Roll Fables