Considering today’s socio-political environment, the unadulterated angst of Seattle’s Police Teeth is absolutely unsurprising.Their new self-titled disc scowls and sneers like an eternally cynical (yet equally rambunctious) take on pop punk, or perhaps a less biting version of At The Drive In (particularly in the back and forth shouted vocals of “My V-4 Weighs a Ton”). In the end, though, it’s hard to tell if the bass-heavy belly-aching on “Chicago One Point Five” (a list of bad boy tropes followed by “damn everything holding us back”) is sincere, an arch smirk overpowering all else.
When they’re taking on easy targets like lawyers on “The Politics of Treble” or rowdy drinking on “Chicago One Point Five”, everything seems too easy. But when less on the nose, the raw snark and huge guitar licks succeed much the way Seattle scene compatriots Unnatural Helpers did not long ago. On “Bellingham Media Blackout”, exasperatedly imploring you not to “bother asking if they know who you are/ bother asking if they’ll send help soon” over crispy concrete riffs. The rabid post-punk existentialism of “(My Baby’s Got The) Black Lung” provides another highlight, the manic smile evident from the title on.
But there’s a dose of Sonic Youth’s well-tempered album pacing (and their focus on clanging, intense guitars), slowing things down so that the train doesn’t derail. Bassist Chris Rasmussen and guitarist James Burns trade lead vocal duties, at times giving Police Teeth a more brooding element as opposed to its typical demanding aggression. In both methodologies, Police Teeth’s vocals hit every angsty pose so precisely that it can be hard to trust, though the rough post-punk surrounding it certainly tries to force you to.
Essential Tracks: “Bellingham Media Blackout”, “(My Baby’s Got The (Black Lung)”