I’m not sure if it’s possible to make a pop rock record that doesn’t sound, well, familiar in some way. Listening to Teeth, the second release from Utah band The Devil Whale, I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing, though. Teeth is a collection of tightly composed, infectious pop rock — it doesn’t sound new, necessarily, but there’s something comfortable in its familiarity. The band’s energy and ear for catchy hooks don’t hurt things either; tracks are inherently listenable. What’s more, they’re good.
That’s where the difference comes in that separates The Devil Whale from plenty of other run-of-the-mill pop rock bands. They play to a formula, to be certain, but they do it well. Their musical capabilities make Teeth a true pleasure to listen to. Anchored by strong vocals from front man Brinton Jones, the album alternates between shoulder shaking numbers shot through with cheery guitars and tambourines and soulful ballads backed by pianos.
The Devil Whale have toured with The Cold War kids, and I hear similar sophistication in many of the tracks on Teeth. “Barracuda” is an excellent example of Jones’s vocal prowess and songwriting abilities — the changes in tempo prevents this from being straight textbook pop. I’m a particular fan of “Standing Stones,” which showcases some excellent, roiling guitar chords and a real appreciation for ’60s beach rock.