The Dagons

Teeth for Pearls

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The cracked mermaid ornament on the cover of the Dagons' Teeth for Pearls isn't there by accident. On their second album -- which follows their debut after a four-year hiatus -- the Dagons craft a sound that is oddly aquatic, a dark, swampy mix of garage rock, goth, and dream pop that blends heavy drums and guitars with ethereal vocals and spooky lyrics. Alternating bright, poppy tracks like the sweet but punchy "Heaven Wasn't in the Sky" with slower and more darkly alluring songs like "On This Bed Forever," Teeth for Pearls has a chiaroscuro effect that is distilled in songs such as "Dell of Ferns." Karie Jacobson's siren-like vocals may be the most striking thing about the Dagons, a sweet yet sinister soprano that's the perfect vehicle for lyrics like "You Kill the Dream"'s "Bury her in my place/You know we have the same face." However, her thin, eerie voice is so distinctive that it occasionally becomes monotonous, and even a little annoying, over the course of Teeth for Pearls, as do the murky production values throughout the album. Despite that, there are quite a few strong moments, such as the sexy, snarly riff that drives "Done," a song that manages to sound strangely quieter than it actually is. "Turnstile" and "Tell It to Be Quiet" fuse rockabilly with the band's dreamy/goth leanings in a surprisingly effective way, while "Queen to Bathe" and "Teeth for Pearls" itself have a high-strung, shadowy sweetness that cuts through the album's muddy sound. Closing with "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard," a tale of playground menace sung by a little old lady, Teeth for Pearls reveals itself as a collection of punk fairy tales seething with a strange danger. At this point, the Dagons are more promising than they are rewarding, but this album has enough compelling songs to suggest that their next album will be even more intriguing.

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