Police Teeth are yet another band that has been functioning well beneath my radar over the last few years. This is their third album and one which is making me realise that I have at least two great big gaps in my music collection (gaps now filled). Police Teeth are one of those rare bands that are able to straddle a number of genres with ease, never coming across as wholly one thing or another. They are capable of producing an unholy row if they see fit or toning it right down to something much more minimalist if required, and making either approach seem as if it fits them like a glove without it sounding forced or clumsy.
This album will give you an experience of punk (actual and post-), indie rock, rock’n’roll and a hint of noise. Think of a sound that seems to have elements of bands such as (but not limited to) Latterman, Mission of Burma, the Pixies, Bonk, and even a bit of Dillinger Four. That takes you some way to understanding what you might hear, but it’s so much more than that when you actually listen to Police Teeth.
Opening with the raw blast of “Send More Cops”, there is no denying that Police Teeth actually have some teeth to their music. This is primal and aggressive, with distorted screaming vocals that really do send out a defiant opening statement of intent, even if the rest of the album never crosses such an extreme path again. Still, one is forced to take notice.
Up next is “Summertime Bruise” (great title) which continues in the punk vein, albeit in a more restrained way. They also manage to fit in the word "hyperbole" into the lyrics, which in my book is always a good word to get into a song!
This approach continues through “Hatebuttoned” and on into the excellent “Rock & Roll Is a Pyramid Scheme”, which is my favourite track on the album with its catchy refrain, “Rock and roll is a pyramid scheme. / You shouldn't take this shit so seriously.”
Next is “Hatchet Wound City” which takes you neatly into “Public Defender”, a song which sees Police Teeth moving into a post-punk/indie kind of groove with a repetitive bassline keeping the song moving along, whilst featuring some softly spoken/sung vocals before occasionally springing into a more conventional (of sorts) rock-based attack. At just under seven minutes, this provides an excellent midpoint to the album.
Before the final track is reached, you also have the excellent quartet of tracks “Dude Handler’s Permit”, “True Stuff”, "Digital Snakes” and “Christian Rudolph, A Man of Science”. It would be easy to write chapter and verse as to how good they are, but then this review would get even longer, and that is unnecessary.
The album closes with the epic nine minutes of “Watching the Hydroplanes” (a cover of a Tunnel Vision song, released on Factory Records in 1981), swinging back and fore between a slow, relaxed deep bass sound, and more of a rock sound. This brings the album to a good end and the track doesn't feel too lengthy or, worse, like the kind of final track you’d just ignore.
All 11 tracks are strong in their own right—bring them together as a larger body of work and that’s what makes this album the tour de force that it is. This is one of the best things I've heard so far this year and is already standing head and shoulders above other releases (admittedly, I’m writing this in early February, but it is very good, of that there is no doubt). It reminds me of first hearing recent records like Hidden World by Fucked Up and Crazy Arm’s Born to Ruin—it shows that there are still bands worth tracking down, bands capable of leaving a lasting impression.
There is no doubt that if you haven’t heard Police Teeth, then you should at least give them a chance—musical radars can often mean missing out on a gem of a band. If you have heard them before then I guess you’re already a few steps ahead of the rest and will be awaiting this with baited breath. Musically (varied) and lyrically (amusing and interesting in equal measures), they have something to get across and they do both with aplomb. Police Teeth are awesomer than most. I call for the abolishment of all radars.