“Tambourine” – Teeth & Tongue
Teeth & Tongue is a band fronted by a woman, and if you wanna go red in the face, read a review about a female-fronted band. I can’t think of a more contemporary example of how insidiously ingrained sexism is in our society, demonstrated by the fact that girls are only ever compared to other girls in music and are frequently condescended. Have you ever heard a rock group called a “girl band” just because it has a girl in it? Yeah. Why don’t we call The Bad Seeds a boy band, then? Think on it. And now that we’ve addressed how you and I are generally decent people for our awareness and dedication to righteousness against the hideous blights in our society (you are, right?), we can move forward with mutual respect in addressing how Jess Cornelius is kicking the asses of legions of self- pitying indie boys jangling their electronic penises in the ears of radio listeners.
They say everyone who bought a Velvet Underground record started a band, and that may very well be true, but it’s hardly a mistake as long as you’ve got conviction in your idiosyncrasy enough to make it your own. The specter of that old Reed fella pokes its head through now and then during Cornelius’ lofty warbling, but they also invoke the Velvets with distorted guitars and bizarre loops and samples. “Vaseline On The Lens” sounds like a modern take on a Silver Jews jawn, with the strong, plodding bass line and Old West-style riffs filling the room between lines, and she even lays down an approximation of PJ Harvey’s shrill incisiveness on the sorrowful “Love As A Word”. Cornelius pummels the high notes to emphasize just how CRUSHED she is by the disappointment of unmet expectations; “We’ll never get this right / But at least we tried” indeed Jess, and how! You’ll make us nice boys weep. The pace here is magnificent, it gives Tambourine congruence like a real album rather than merely a disparate collection of songs masquerading as such. Each track feeds off the previous one and into the next, action rising and falling until the penultimate slow-burner “To Be Alone”, which is stripped back and makes you stew before the record’s psych-tinged finale. Tambourine is a bumpy ride with its wicked, dynamic character, and it’s one worth going on again and again.
– Jake Cleland