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album review: teeth & tongue, tambourine

Sometimes, you just like something and can’t really explain why. That’s exactly what happened to me when I first listened to the new Teeth and Tongue album, and I very quickly fell in love with the band.

I was actually surprised I hadn’t heard of them before, as their music seems to present the perfect mix of relentless beats, hints of haunting tension and a raw voice that captures emotion without being flashy.

Teeth & Tongue is the musical project of Jess Cornelius, together with long-time collaborator Marc Regueiro-Mckelvie (guitar) and Damian Sullivan (bass). Their new album Tambourine comes three years after their debut album Monobasic, which was said to combine ‘pop, garage and post-punk with metronomic precision and haunting vocals’.

I’m dying to hear their earlier work, as this new record ticks all these boxes and more. It is beautiful music that sinks deep into your heart while making you sing along too.

Jess’s obsession with her old 505 drum machine is obvious in this album and she creates rare hypnotic beats and pared-back rhythms with nothing more than her voice, the drum machine and an electric guitar.

The songs are both captivating and unsettling, and the album was absent of any fillers. Only a few songs lacked urgency, and to discover an album where you enjoy almost all of the songs on your first listen is very uncommon.

I’ve heard the first two tracks, ‘Walls’ and ‘Unfamiliar Skirts’, floating around on triple j but in my mind but they are but a few of the standout tracks from Tambourine. ‘Unfamiliar Skirts’ has poetic lyrics which really sent shivers down my spine:

“Millions of women waiting for you/ and you can seek salvation in their unfamiliar skirts/ you can seek forgiveness in the muscles of their thighs.”

There are so many other fascinating lyrics dotted throughout the album too, including the very first line in ‘Love as a Word’:

“I don’t even like you but I can’t say no.”

However, it’s not only the words that make these songs so enchanting. They’re all distinct and possess artistic musical qualities, but Tracks 3 and 7 are the standouts for me. ‘Rot on a Vine’ has a subtle tension, whereas ‘Vaseline on the Lens’ has strong mysterious undertones.

I’ll let you discover the tracks yourself, but I can assure you that Tambourine is unique and will keep you interested until the last track.

It’s definitely been worth the three year wait.

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