Grapetooth are preparing to drop their debut album. It will be self-titled collection. Polyvinyl will share the goods on November 9th. It’s good to have nice things to look forward to. So far, the duo of Chris Bailoni and Clay Frankel have not disappointed.
In recent months we’ve heard a few noises, and seen a few things from the Chicago-based outfit. The two artists met in 2015 when Frankel returned home from tour with Twin Peaks. They started writing synth-heavy tunes in Bailoni’s bedroom studio – the place where he’d previously worked on his other solo, and production work, Home-Sick.
The smudgy synth work in the output of Grapetooth arrives like disco gone wrong. And that’s good. There’s an air of disruption in the way progressions unfold. Typically, it’s a tricky stunt to pull – the synthesis of spontaneity – but Bailoni and Frankel do well to preserve grit in the shine. The vitality of DIY tracking is evident, but so is a sense of scale that points to where Grapetooth find their source.
Previous tracks, ‘Violent’ and ‘Trouble’, have acknowledged influences of the band. And they’re restored here – with the kind of video treatment you’d expect to find in a mothballed bargain bucket in an abandoned Blockbuster. Gather round children, Grapetooth will share stories of the olden days when things like VHS and common decency still existed.
It’s the balance between the darkly surreal stuff and the melodically pretty passages that offers the unique identifier of Grapetooth. ‘Red Wine’ monitors those worlds well. There is a moodiness in the down-tempo stuff, but there is also a well-humored approach to phrasing. This is the shit you play after the after party for the crowd that will get the references, quietly marvel at the precision and ease, of what’s happening.