The Toothe are one of those bands you simply can’t deny. Love them or hate them, you have to acknowledge them, and perhaps that’s where some of their power comes from. Their self-described “apocalyptic Americana” sound is simultaneously charming and witty in a way that could be described as ironic folk. Their debut EP Talons is a snapshot of this sound condensed into six tracks that packs a punch of punch-drunkenness.
With the wit of a satire blogger and the laziness of a Sunday afternoon banjo, the Toothe make one hell of a band. This sort of absurdism might not be clear from the opening plucks and organ of “Earthworm”––it sounds like a perfectly reasonable folk tune with hints of Good Old War and even some Simon & Garfunkel––but when the memorable lyric “love is the answer to a question ugly people shouldn’t ask” arrives unexpectedly, you start to get a feel for the true colors of the Toothe. StGA’s previous comparison of the band to the Avett Brothers is both on-point and much too serious; that being said, there’s some saccharine Americana in Talons.
The band bounce back and forth between lighthearted jaunts through the countryside (“Slab”) that sound like a chorus of Bob Dylan‘s harmonizing lines penned by the Cracked crew. Not to exclude the musicianship of the Toothe––”Slab” features some transfixing strings in its midst and ends with a calm, jazzy bass line that ranks among the best. And with songs like “Husk,” which opens with placid acoustic lines and a heartbreaking couplet of broken love, the Toothe seem to be completely sincere. In fact, “Husk” nearly makes the entire EP worth a listen. However, it’s almost immediately countered by the line “you’re passing through me like a kidney stone, torturously slow” followed by some Owl City-esque synth. It’s this tug of war between authenticity and wit that makes the Toothe tiptoe the line between genius and gimmick, and that’s for the listener to decide. Talons has some great moments, but it also has a song that begins with “I’m so sorry I splattered mustard on your leotard.” Even so, the EP is a noveau-folk outing that can certainly be stomached, unlike that unfortunate kidney stone.
MP3: The Toothe “Earthworm”