The Grates

Teeth Lost, Hearts Won

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The Grates' second album finds them growing up a little and taking a handful of steps away from the Sleater-Kinney/Be Your Own Pet axis that defined their sound on first album, Gravity Won't Get You High. They're still a punky pop-rock band concentrating firmly on having fun above all else and Patience Hodgson's vocals still have that bratty, American-accented riot grrrl edge a fair amount of the time, especially in simple, punchy songs like "Aw Yeah." However, there's a shift towards something that might almost be maturity when Hodgson takes on a sensual, womanly, Chrissy Amphlett tone while considering topics like becoming a mother. As a band they've taken the adult step of grabbing a co-production credit alongside Peter Katis, who has also produced for Interpol and Mates of State, adding flourishes like keyboards, accordion, guest vocalists, and a barking-dog break in the kooky "When You're Scared of Dogs." "Storms and Fevers" begins with an uncharacteristically slow buildup like dark clouds rolling in over the hills before a storm of synth straight out of a doomy Joy Division song blows in. By contrast, "Earthquakes" comes on with all the suddenness of the disaster it's named after and, though it continues the tendency toward new wave keys seen in the previous track, it buries them under avalanches of guitar and drums and words. Highlights comes in the drunken, folky, and shambolic "Not Today," featuring an excellent guest turn by Brooklynite Tim Fite, and the anthemic and energetic "Bridges Burn." All in all, Teeth Lost, Hearts Won both lives up to and builds on the promise of the Grates' debut album. They definitely sound like they're maturing, but they still sound like a band who are all about having fun. They may be losing teeth but they're not losing any of their appeal along the way.

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