The Grates - Teeth Lost, Hearts Won
Record Label: Dew Process/Thirty Tigers
Release Date: August 2, 2008 (September 15, 2009 in US/Canada)
The buzz about Brisbane, Australia three-piece The Grates has been growing steadily since the release of their Dew Process debut EP, The Ouch. The Touch in 2005. With the EP quickly followed up by the debut full length, Gravity Won’t Get You High, the indie pop scene was aglow with praise for The Grates, with four songs making it into the ‘prestigious’ annual Triple J Hottest 100. Without a sideways step, sophomore effort Teeth Lost, Hearts Won has taken The Grates to a whole new level.
I’m all for sad, depressing music. It’s my favourite kind. Unfortunately, The Grates are so full of energy, it could make even the saddest man bop along to their infinitely catchy Teeth Lost, Hearts Won. One part garage rock, two parts indie rock and a sprinkling of pop, The Grates manage to create a sound so fun and so energetic, even lead singer Patience Hodgson can’t keep her feet on the ground.
Leading off with singles “Burn Bridges” and “Carve Your Name”, the sound The Grates were already known for is evident, but this time with a much bigger sound. The echoed drums and distorted guitar are the culprit for this busy sound, and the crisp production makes it particularly effective, along with the help of a few friends on additional instruments.
Though the instruments provide a much more fulfilling backing track, it only inspires Hodgson to work harder to keep herself in the spotlight, and she doesn’t disappoint. As she bellows the chorus to “Aw Yeah”, it becomes evident that she now carries a lot more melody in her vocals in comparison to previous efforts. It’s still loud, it’s still a little grating, but there is melody there. Hodgson’s vocals have always defined The Grates’ sound; now they have both changed for the better.
The Grates take a darker turn around the halfway mark, as if “The Sum of Every Part” splits the album. However, much like Modest Mouse, The Grates still manage to keep their music catchy, whatever they sing about. “Storms and Fevers” is the darkest of the album, though John Patterson’s guitars and keys keep an uplifting sound behind Hodgson’s more sincere vocals.
To follow up the solemn “Storms and Fevers”, a squeal from Hodgson and some more garage style guitars bring the energy back into the album with “Earthquake”. Hectic choruses and an even more frantic closure show some more experimentation from The Grates, and the exploration of darker themes is evident in some of the lyrics.
“Not Today” lazes around with a fantastic contribution from Tim Fite, while “Let It Die” continues the trend of faster, garage-rock/pop. “The Biggest and Largest Adventure Ever” closes the album with upbeat pop, but not quite with the same strength as the album opening. A fitting end, Hodgson, Patterson and Alana Skyring (drummer) close the song and album, singing a line each.
The Grates make genuinely fun music. It’s not as easy as people say it is. Teeth Lost, Hearts Won is a step up from their previous efforts, and one can only hope they continue to move forward to bigger and better things from here. With their third full length scheduled for release in 2010, be on the lookout for The Grates. Until then, don’t deny this stellar release, or miss their even more energetic live shows.