Teeth - Whatever

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2011-09-19

Make no mistake; Teeth are one of the funnest, daftest, most loveable bands in the UK right now and live they put on one heck of a show. But that doesn't stop this debut album being a real mixed bag. The problem is the band seem to have taken that title a little too literally. While the record has some serious highlights - about which more later - too many tracks have an overall feeling of "It'll do".

The band certainly don't help their case by opening with 'Confusion', a track which stars with singer Veronica repeating "Y'all think we care/ but we don't" in her best dead-eyed bitch voice. As a way of pre-empting the critics it's pretty astute but the kiddie Crystal Castles smash 'n' bleep tune, all atonal synth squiggles and simplistic, pounding beat, sets the tone for a collection of songs with too little variation. 'Pill Programme', 'Care Bear' and 'This Time' are all brief explosions of noise which make use of a limited palette of fizzy electro sounds. Instrumental closer 'Street Jams', meanwhile, sounds like it was put together on a laptop while its maker kept half an eye on Hollyoaks . It's an irritatingly lazy piece of work.

But let's just talk about the highlights, for they are truly, staggeringly good. New single 'Flowers' is 3.21 of jerky dance-pop heaven and the way its 'too cool for the dancefloor' verse gives way to a glitter fabulous chorus is intuitive genius. It's rivalled in the best track stakes only by the band's debut single 'See Spaces', which remains every bit as seductive and gorgeous now as it was last year. Tellingly, its tale of coming to terms with letting go is the one time on the album Teeth show real emotional grit, with Veronica's doleful plea of "Let's be friends/ Please don't leave" summing up so much with so little. This brace of songs demonstrates that this is a band with some serious songwriting chops, which makes the lacklustre material elsewhere all the more confounding and disappointing.

To be fair, there are other decent moments: 'Dead Boys' plays with some scintillating neon-flash effects but never quite works them into a real song, while early b-side 'Time Changes' still sounds pretty awesome, although it's presence here is a little troubling. Out of 10 tracks, three have previously been released. In fact, so much about Whatever, from that title onwards, feels slapdash, it's a little baffling that it's even out. Were Moshi Moshi really pushing so hard for an album? Couldn't the band have taken a little more time between touring and partying to put together a few more serious tunes along the lines of 'Flowers' and 'See Spaces'?

I stand by my statement at the start of this review. Teeth have written some of the best pop (yes, pop) music of the last couple of years. And they clearly have the talent to make more. But first they need to get past being the 'fuck it' party band and start paying attention to their not inconsiderable songwriting talent. I really hope they do that, because I want a Teeth album to fall utterly in love with. I know they have it in them.

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