by Stephen Veith (@quakeroats91)
Philadelphia four piece grunge-pop outfit Loose Tooth released their debut full-length, Easy Easy East on Fleeting Youth Records two years ago, after releasing 2013’s EP What It Is and a split record in 2015. Since then, they’ve signed on with Father/Daughter and Lame-O Records and have released their latest record Big Day.
Easy Easy East was a momentum driven release that touched upon the slacker rock forms perfected in the 90’s, without bowing to the indulgent cheekiness that bands like Pavement delivered. On Big Day, Loose Tooth have reached deeper into their creative pockets to produce a record that compliments Easy Easy East, but also matures the band's overall sound and expands the range of creative liberties that they confidently express.
“Garlic Soup” is a direct departure from the loose slacker style so ever present in their initial full-length; it’s a calculated move by them that allows for previous listeners to understand what they’re capable of. Its evident that Loose Tooth are willing to keep everything contained until the pressure becomes too much, at which time the song disintegrates from controlled energy to a feedback laden breakdown. Tracks such as “Little Blue” and “Roach Motel” illuminate the band's brilliant contortion of pace, dressed with clean guitar lines as feedback slowly creeps in. In “Little Blue” specifically, the song transitions from a slow, nodding, clean track into a grungy power-pop tribute about the narrator's obsession with the tiny blue cup they have fallen in love with “as if it was his own."
“Dog Years” is crucial to understanding this record and how Loose Tooth have found new ground. The clean, rounded bass tone dances around a mimicking guitar while buzzing synths wash over. A ghostly voice calls out, as if from down a long hallway - echoing just faintly enough to make it tough to decipher. Twinkling guitars that cap and compress the semi-instrumental track fence in the space between the upbeat bass line and the phantom vocals. This allows the snippets of quietly mixed spoken word tracks to shine through the cracks in the floorboards. This is the foundation on which Loose Tooth was built: subtlety. “Dog Years” seems to the spiritual successor to the gorgeous instrumental track from their debut release, "Greetings From." However, the difference between the two is perhaps the most telling of the band's development. They exude a unique pacing relative to the rest of the record while still keeping grounded in their stylistic strong points - incredible drums and bass, absolute vocal control, and guitar parts that sound like Nick Reinhart and J Mascis had a love child that was raised by Rob Crow.
Big Day takes a serious departure on “Day Old Glory” which features fellow Philadelphia artist Abi Reimold. Her silky and rich range creates a Lynchian jazz room atmosphere; as the song ends the hypnotic drumming quickens, driving guitars pollinate the courage to be alright with death because Loose Tooth acknowledge that you won’t be on this earth for long, but it's all going to alright, because they’re "finally okay/ to be me."
As the album's ends, Loose Tooth break the fourth wall and declares to the listeners that the album is ending by simply stating it mid song, furthering the band's keen use of talking snippets to provide atmosphere as they did with “Dog Years” and “Greetings From”. Big Day has a more focused and composed message about the simplicity and finality of life; the necessity to accept life's arbitrary nature and to use it to fuel the best life that you can. Big Day is carefree, aware, and slightly apprehensive, as in the end of “Dog Years,” a snippet of a pundit says “it’s a gamble, nobody knows the effect of anything that he does, upon the world.” After digesting Big Day, the sentiment seems appropriate for all of humankind.