This Milk Teeth article was written by Simon Carline, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Ben Kendall.
If you’re to buy into what a few people are saying, the long-running BBC drama Doctor Who needs a shake-up. A shake up that could even lead to a female lead for the first time in the show’s history, which begs the question of who is qualified for such a high profile role? Don’t worry, you are reading a Milk Teeth album review.
In Becky Blomfield, Milk Teeth’s bassist and lead vocalist, we seem to have the ideal candidate; after all, judging from the unashamedly convincing 90’s vibe of ‘Vile Child’, she and her bandmates seem to be dab hands with a Tardis. The entire Milk Teeth experience is a hefty nod to the peak era of grunge, and all the references are there in plain view – right down to the retro MTV-aping logo found in the corner of their music videos. It’s a nice touch, we’ve gone back twenty years.
The ’90s throwbacks aren’t restricted to aesthetics though. Mere seconds into the opening track and lead single, ‘Brickwork’, a raucous energy that bares a clear resemblance to that band that did ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ rattles around your ears. The latest single ‘Brain Food’ provides much of the same in terms of pace as Blomfield laments the all-too-familiar troubles of being one of the unemployed Generation Y. The frustration of confinement in a small town is scattered across ‘Vile Child’ and is especially prominent on ‘Brain Food’. With lyrics like “I never had a plan of where I’m headed, struggle to keep a job and make ends meet. End up wasting hours on daytime TV cause no one in this town will hire me”, it’s impossible not to envisage it becoming an anthem for twenty-something post-graduates everywhere.
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It’s not all punky grunge with the shackles off; there’s a few different sides to Milk Teeth to get your own canines and molars into. The slow distortion of ‘Swear Jar’ takes you back to Weezer at their original best from, you guessed it, the ’90s, before ‘Kabucki’ strips everything back to just Blomfield and an acoustic guitar. These slower and softer numbers sit well amongst the heavier efforts as the band pulls influences from all of the golden age of grunge’s big hitters; we even get a touch of Soundgarden on ‘Moon Wanderer’ before the almost-upbeat punk of ‘Crows Feet’ reasserts itself.
There is one aspect of ‘Vile Child’ that may move the odd listener to hit the skip button occasionally as, mixed in with Blomfield’s poppier melodies, there sits the sandpaper snarl of former guitarist Josh Bannister. Bannister was a founding member, leaving the band mere weeks before the release having provided the lead vocals on ‘Get A Clue,’ ‘Cut You Up,’ and ‘Sunbaby’. In moderation, his vocal contributions provide an effective play off with Blomfield’s but, when they’re at the forefront, they can be a little jarring.
Milk Teeth have vowed to continue without Bannister and in doing so they have an exciting future ahead of them. Building on the abundance of potential that makes ‘Vile Child’ a thoroughly decent debut, they’re almost forced to play to their strengths with Becky Blomfield shouldering the extra vocal responsibilities. Failing that, there’s always that career in the time travel industry that we were talking about.
‘Vile Child’ is out now via Hopeless Records.