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LOOSE TOOTH – KEEP ON: REVIEW

August 1, 2018

LOOSE TOOTH

Keep On (Milk!/Remote Control)

 

Pop records like this are the perfect antidotes to a welter of weasel words from a State government firing up greyhound racing, just the shot of energy you need after a blather of bile from pale, ailed racists and thugs on Sky News, and exactly the sound of a winter that feels like a summer.

 

This is what Blondie might sound like if they popped up in lower Manhattan (or inner Melbourne) now rather than 1974: one third urban surf band, one third Brill Building aficionados, and one third guitar rock with the cockiness removed. Oh yes, I almost forgot, and some out-of-nowhere sax soloing.

 

The all-singing/all-songwriting Melbourne trio of Etta Curry, Nellie Jackson and Luc Dawson (drums, guitar, bass respectively) have got a lot going on for a stripped down sound. They throb, jolt, drily deliver their lines; swing, jump, layer those voices; and sneak in a lot of straight out hooky tunes. Voices swap leads - Dawson’s the most tender, Curry and Jackson’s the punchier – so that the focus keeps shifting, but the sense of a collective spirit remains throughout.

While the obvious reference points are a post-Pixies ‘90s of Throwing Muses, Breeders and Sleater-Kinney, the strongest connection for me is local, specifically Clouds and Hummingbirds. Like those two mixed-sex bands, Loose Tooth’s melodies are more laid out than thrown up (those hints of slacker delivery enhance that), the tempos mostly encourage modest swivelling of the hips rather than stamping of feet, and the laidback songs – you wouldn’t really call them ballads – sway with intent.

 

Yet all the time there’s a fizziness which works as a spur to look up rather than down. Some of that fizziness is in guitars which owe more to a ragged punk aesthetic than jangly pop but still play like support vehicles rather than assault weapons. Some comes from having next to no one – except that saxophone!! – looking to fill the spaces between drum/bass/guitar.

 

But mostly it comes from the unburdened energy of songs, fast or slow, that aren’t trying to outsmart you, just enjoin you. To do what? Whatever you want, it’s summer-as-winter after all.

 

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