Baby Teeth - The Baby Teeth Album (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Baby Teeth

The Baby Teeth Album (2005)


What a bizarre little record this is. Baby Teeth's throwback to 70's top 40 pop and soul balances on a pin between enthralling and ridiculous. Truth be told, I was quite taken by The Baby Teeth Album for the first week or so it was in my possession. It's one of those truly post-modern records, delivering a pastiche of well worn styles in a way that's completely self-aware and smugly oblivious of current trends. Usually that's something I can get behind, and there's times when Baby Teeth's songwriting is good enough to pull it off; however, I can't discern how serious the band is taking this effort. If this is all meant to be ironic, and it sure seems like it at times, my enthusiasm for the material wanes.

"Mighty Time" comes off like something Elton John might have written back in the "Rocket Man" / "Tiny Dancer" era. You know, the pre-Disney soundtrack Elton that you can admit you actually don't mind. The three-part harmonies and Pearly Sweets' syrupy vocals sound completely authentic, but then the chorus kicks in; "Just bring all the blow that you can find / Gonna be a mighty time!" Blow? Is this meant to be ironic or sound so silly? Suddenly I'm not sure if I should be singing or laughing along, and that's really the core flaw of The Baby Teeth Album: It never firmly decides if it's doing this "for real" or not. There are some wonderful high points though. The memorable funk of "Celebrity Wedding" could put a smile on anyone's face. Just try and not sing along to the backing vocals in the chorus. "Butter X" follows a similar template to similar success. I've seen more than a few reviewers compare Baby Teeth to Chicago, and the observation's quite accurate. However, I've always personally been torn on Chicago. On one hand, you have the cool and soulful Robert Lamm keeping things somewhat grounded (Transit Authority was a pretty awesome record), but you also have the pure evil of Pete Cetera making those later sugary power ballads sound all the more ridiculous. Pearly Sweets sounds a lot like Lamm at times, but on those maybe-ironic-maybe-not schmaltzy tunes ("Dream," "Mandy," "Dynamite Explodes") Baby Teeth are dangerously slipping into Cetera country. I don't know about you, but that's somewhere I try and stay away from.

The Baby Teeth Album is a curious little artefact, but one I plan to hang on to for a while. It's just weird and catchy enough to warrant repeat listens, even if it's just to figure out what the hell the band's intentions are. That unclear purpose keeps the record from achieving heights that the band is certainly skilled enough to obtain, so it'll be interesting to watch where they take things from here.