Teeth & Tongue, Grids – Album Review

gridsJess Cornelius’ greatest strength has always been her voice. It came swaggering through the otherwise straightforward rock-n-roll of her previous band, Moscow Schoolboy. Part PJ Harvey, part Kim Gordon – the comparisons are obvious, but the voice is still undeniably hers. She takes true ownership of her voice on Grids, her third release as Teeth & Tongue.

Album opener ‘Good Man’ is a multi-tracked carnival ride that turns nightmarish, all canon-fire percussion and ghostly choirs. Second single ‘Newborn’, featuring Melbourne’s Laura Jean, is just as playful and cheery, evoking the kooky R&B vibes of Sweden’s Jenny Wilson.

Though Cornelius’ approach may be more playful, it’s not immature: her craft has grown exponentially. Her earlier releases – 2008’s Monobasic and 2011’s Tambourine – packed an emotional punch with grimy guitars and claustrophobic, intimate vocals. Now, Cornelius goes for theatrical pomp, especially on tracks like ‘I Feel Good’ where she caterwauls like Kate Bush at her craziest.

The album is diverse in moods, rich in texture. ‘Mess You Up’ is a ballad for sad 80s Goths, and ‘Easy Living’ has something of the late, great The Organ. Album-closer ‘Family Home’ recaptures some of the grandiose gloom of ‘Sad Sun’, Cornelius’ best single to date. Grids may not have a clear standout like ‘Sad Sun’ – which is to Teeth & Tongue what ‘Maps’ is to Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a towering achievement in a still-strong discography – but it’s a strong album that gives more with repeated plays. Recommended for late night listening.

Grids, is out now. They are touring Australia in the next couple of months, see dates below. You can keep up to date with the band on Facebook.

Apr 18 Boogie Festival – Tallarook
Apr 24 The Gov – Adelaide
Apr 25 Howler – Brunswick
May 05 Newtown Workers Club – Melbourne
May 06 The Hi Fi – Brisbane
May 10 Beechworth Music Festival – Beechworth
May 15 Metro Theatre – Sydney
May 16 The Metro Theatre – Sydney
May 22 Forum Melbourne – Melbourne
May 23 The Forum Theatre – Melbourne

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Words by Liam Casey