Friday, April 13, 2007

Album Review- Sharp Teeth

David Karsten Daniels
Sharp Teeth

A majority of our lives are spent fighting against things we have no control over. There are your typical fights against evils such as injustice, world hunger, global warming, commercial radio, etc., that with enough will and effort might actually be won. But these are nothing. The hardest fights we as humans have to face are internal. The sort of internal battles that wreak havoc on our physical state being the worst, since there is no true escape from internal conflict. But we can never bring ourselves to fight against ourselves, so the problem must be externalized somehow in order for us to gauge its impact and challenge accordingly. In comes the art of catharsis. Demons weren’t meant to live inside the body, and this is why they must be exercised.

The artwork for Sharp Teeth seems misleading at first. It’s a gruesome portrait that makes one wonder what association it could have with the acoustic folk found on the album. Upon further listen, it becomes startlingly clear how accurate it is. Its portrayal of a man ravenously gorging the innards from a woman’s body is a bloody, but realistic view of human nature in the rawest sense. As the album illustrates, it works both ways. We have the just as much an ability to tear apart others as we do ourselves.

The album opener, “The Dream Before The Ring That Woke Me” should be able to convince the hardest of hearts of music’s ability to convey, as well as influence emotion. It’s the first, and last, truly happy moment of the album. The music builds and builds under the same lyrical refrain until it’s brimming over with joyous energy. If you can’t feel a palpable sensation in your heart, you should probably be sleeping in a morgue.

The following song, “Scripts” rests on quiet acoustic strums and lonely organ chords. It’s the blues at its bluest—you can practically hear the hound dogs howling. But just before we sink into total despair, the sound of a New Orleans band breaks the silence creating a sad, but somewhat celebratory rendition. “American Pastime” wins the award for best lyrical metaphor, likening a relationship to a game of little league baseball. “We’re not cut out for the major leagues” is basically the conclusion. It also shows that the music doesn’t have to be sad to be cathartic. With its circular, bouncy bassline and childish prose, it actually becomes an endearing form of release.

While all of the songs expose Daniels’ inner conflicts in some naked form, “Minows” is the best example of the music channeling his absolution. The crescendo swells until its apex is answered by a collective yelling towards the heavens; “And in the dark our touching is anonymous/I am a shark, drinking blood and drowning us.”

“I wanted to talk about planets….” David starts on the album closer, “We Go Right On”, “Something to romanticize this human cruelty we have within us/Something about orbits passing and an inability to do anything but what we are designed to do.” After a ten step process of catharsis, he comes to the realization that these are infact a basic part of human nature, something not easily exhumed. But while we may not always be able to exit all demons from our system, we can be certain that music will always be the best means for trying.

Download >>The Dream Before The Ring That Woke Me

Download >>American Pastime

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