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Ice, Sea, Dead People Teeth Union Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

London trio lets their music do all the talking, and shouting, and screaming.

Mike Diver 2010

Making sense is overrated. Ice, Sea, Dead People think so. Their press release for this debut album – although at under 25 minutes you’ll find longer EPs in the racks – recounts a story of young love gone awry courtesy of a too-full bladder. It tells the reader precisely nothing about the band. It leaves the music to do the talking. And the shouting. And the screaming.

But with a makers’ moniker like that behind it, Teeth Union was never likely to be a folk release, or the latest offering from some old country codger. True enough, the playful-cum-naff pun is the work of whippersnappers, all fresh faces and innocent smiles. But boy, do those cheeks pack some dangerous dentures. Theirs is music for audiences ready to embrace tinnitus. Theirs is a racket that attracts plaudits full of adjectives like "angular", "abrasive" and "artsy". It’s like Liars chucked away their affection for out-there weirdness and got on with being a hardcore band; like No Age really wanted to be Hüsker Dü.

Which is, obviously, a brilliant thing; a messy, sketchy, scrambled puzzle of pirouetting riffs and clattering percussion, with vocals atop like rotten cherries, sticky-sweet to the touch but sure to leave a bad taste in the mouth and a pain in the guts. Two singles – the awesome My Twin Brother’s a Brother and Hence Elvis (listed here as Hence: Elvis – a colon-ic conundrum) – have attracted praise from high-profile DJs and rock rags alike; but while they’re fine, fiery standalones, they comprise essential constituents here. Their positions, third in and third from the end, serve as flashes of familiarity, ensuring the learned listener doesn’t completely get lost in ISDP’s wriggly innards.

The lo-fi recording quality doesn’t always play to the music’s favour – tracks like Grean Tee and Satan/Japan could’ve benefited from a little cleaning up in post-production. (Slight aside: it was mastered by Shellac’s Bob Weston.) But the atmosphere generated by these ragged cuts is one that stems from the band’s intense live performances – it’s as much a flyer for that side of their existence as it is an album to be enjoyed on an exclusive level. Besides, to over analyse music like this is missing the point: it’s meant to be fun, for bodies to be tossed about to. And received that way, it’s excellent.

It’s utterly manic of course, and totally without consideration of mainstream attention. But lovingly maddening nonetheless.

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