Real Size Monster Series
The four guys in Police Teeth have been playing in bands—this one as well as Bellingham-based acts Racetrack and USS Horsewhip—for a while, and it shows in more than just their musical chops. Where those years of toil really rear their ugly head is in the Seattle transplants' bitter, pissed-off lyrics about the local music scenery and biz.
"Big Hearts, Small Riffs" begins with the thesis "There's a breakdown in the discourse between art and entertainment," and then proceeds to break it down further—suggesting that DIY is a privilege best afforded by those whose "parents are footing the bill," wondering sarcastically if lighting their gear on fire or adding "a hot girl in her underwear" on tambourine might increase their cut of the door. All over, five minutes of actually pretty-big riffs; steady, swaggering rhythms; and the occasional female background vocal and trumpet burst. On "Bob Stinson Will Have His Revenge on Ferndale," the band—sounding a bit like earlier, angrier Piebald or maybe Braid when that other guy was singing—lament, "The clubs won't touch us without label support/The labels won't touch us until we're back from tour." On "There's a Big Heap of Trash at the End of the Rainbow": "You should have stayed in college and picked a real job/What makes you think you're above punching a clock?"
All of which would just be so much petty, though probably painfully familiar, bitching if the songs were crap. Fortunately, this record, while uneven, has some shining moments of adventurous punk-rock racket. "I Made Out with You Before You Were Cool" buries traces of early Q and Not U's ricocheting, crooked rhythms underneath dual singing/screaming vocals that suffer from the screaming being too low in the mix, so that it sounds blown-out rather than explosive. "Northern California" is a bleary-eyed bender cranked awake with heat-wave-shimmering guitars and comradely gang vocals. "Who Wants to Fuck a Millionaire" and the domestic disaster of "Psychedelic Vasectomy" would both sound just fine alongside Seattle contemporaries Bow + Arrow (although presumably they would have to have words about the whole DIY thing).
This album might not solve all of Police Teeth's problems with the music industry and their place in it, but it could go a good ways in that direction.