Dads - Brush Your Teeth, Again ;)
Record Label: Carucage
Release Date: August 2, 2011
New Jersey’s Dads are a duo that continues to evolve musically and grow in popularity. The more these things grow, the more interesting it is to look back on their roots. New EP Pretty Good is a continued evolution from the basement shenanigans of Dads’ past - especially lead single “My Crass Patch. This befits a band finding a much wider audience, one that now includes the A.V. Club and Pitchfork crowds (the former debuted “My Crass Patch, the latter spotlighted “Boat Rich.” 2011’s Brush Your Teeth, Again ;), already a reissue, is being released yet again on vinyl by Broken World Media
Dads dared you to like them back then, even moreso than they do now. They named this reissue Brush Your Teeth, Again ;). That’s not the end of the winking - a glance to the left will find them winking at you from the album cover. “Get it, guys?” those winks ask. “Do you get it?” There are layers upon layers of both “irony” and earnestness here, a not-rare trait among similar bands that Dads carry to this day (see: “Boat Rich” and “No, We’re Not Actually”).
Fans of music - and art or fame in general - are quick to forgive wiseassery, though. Dads can bestow their songs with the most obnoxious titles, deck their albums with the funkiest .jpeg on file, and have any amount of winking, nudging, or binge tweeting they want so long as they’re delighting fans with a delightful evolution of that familiar midwest emo sound. They aren’t Kanye, but a similar principle applies.
All that really matters is that, both then and now, is that Dads make good music. Whether that makes the other nonsense more endearing or more infuriating is up for debate, but there’s quality to this self-conscious piece of Midwest freneticism. This early material fairly constantly harkens back to predecessors of the past two decades, but it’s capable.
The memorable moments and quick choruses stick like sidewalk chewing gum. Whether or not you enjoys lyrics that are overly bitter at exes - she was just the worst - or espousing the excellence of lights-on sex, “Dan’s Christopher Walken Impression” and “Dos Penes Duros” are going to be playful bopping around your skull later. The songs are busy, abbreviated, and raw. They’re consciously unpolished, especially the vocals that are only passable - or even requisite - in this specific corner of music.
As for the four added songs, they’re apiece with the four original songs. “New Pantera” plays much like “Dan’s Christopher Walken Impression,” but with a dash of sadness to the bitterness - a bit like “Dan’s D’Angelo Impression,” a stripped down and strung out version of the latter song. “Dos Penes Duros” sounds, unsurprisingly, like half a joke song, but it’s fun, fast, and catchy, much like the several beers deep basement anthem of the second half of “Deer in the Basement.”
Recently, with American Radass (this is important) - similarly silly in title and cover but more more settled and musically mature - and curveball single “My Crass Patch,” Dads have trended toward more interesting and polished songwriting. It doesn’t have newcomers wondering (as much) if they’re supposed to take Dads seriously or not. There’s a reason their reach has grown, and deservedly so.
The release of this recent, much better Dads material has somewhat relegated Brush Your Teeth and its reissue to the status of “the early years” for me, reminisced of an in almost patronizing way. These songs, though both good and fun to varying degrees, now work better as a nostalgic undertaking, a device for appreciation of the better things that have come.