“Glow” marks the debut album for Royal Teeth, and it comes with decent hype as the album’s lead single, “Wild,” was featured on a Buick Verano commerical and received some radio play (on SiriusXM AltNation). The band also played on Carson Daily Live. Still, this is a group most haven’t heard of so I’m just as interested in sharing some fresh music as I am hearing from hardcore fans.
I first saw Royal Teeth when they played with The Rocket Summer at a concert in Charlotte, NC. I was impressed by their stage presence and, after the show, got a chance to speak to both the lead singer of Royal Teeth and The Rocket Summer. Since then I’ve been looking forward to the release of Glow. Without hearing much on record, but enjoying them in concert and wanting to support them, I gave their new album a shot. I was hopeful, but also fearful it would be too “bubblegum pop” and not enough “alternative.” So, which way did it go? My track-by-track review (with song titles linked to audio) is below.
1. Hold Me: The ukulele sounding intro is a bit of stretch. After a cool duet with heavy percussion, the track picks up by injecting more harmony and emotion, but the first two minutes are just blasé. (5/10)
2. Vagabonds: With the release of Glow, I was looking for at least one track to match the expectations set by the band’s lead single, “Wild.” “Vagabonds” was one that just about does it.
It’s an interesting track that’s a bit hard to pin down. The brief intro boasts electronica/keyboard sounds that return for the chorus. They’re not overdone and compliment a chorus that lacks a catchy “hook.” Both the male vocalist Gary Larsen and female vocalist Nora Patterson play a major role in the song’s success, complimenting each other perfectly. Overall, there’s not one single thing that sticks out about the track, but rather the masterpiece is in it’s totality.
The lyrics are also interesting. These lines from the chorus stand out:
“Throw out the map
break out the windows
never look back
chasing the shadows
cause we’re Vagabonds living on the run
we do, we take whatever we want.”
3. Wild: It’s the album’s hit single, the song that is catapulting the band, and deservingly so. “Wild” starts with a unique rhythmic intro which fades into a background beat as heavier guitar riffs and drumming begin. Then the most recognizable part of the song kicks in with what I call “melodious annunciations.” I asked the band’s lead singer, Gary Larsen, about the meaning of the song after a Charlotte concert:
I had listened to it a few times before the concert and enjoyed it, so I asked him if it was about what it seemed, a young romance. The lead singer of Royal Teeth said it was originally about just that, but it slowly evolved during the writing process and now the playing process to be about “giving up your real job to do ‘this’” (referring to touring with a start-up band).
You can download a free MP3 of this one on their website, RoyalTeethMusic.com, and check out an acoustic version here. (9.5/10)
4. Yellow Paper: The intro portion is a bit slow, but it picks up less than minute in, and then breaks into duet. The song has an up-and-down tempo with the quicker portions being the better half of the song. Each upbeat duet ends with a keyboard transition that serves to connect them to the remainder of the track. (7/10)
5. We Can Glow: Nora shines in this upbeat track as she handles all the vocals herself. She shows versatility, with her ability to perform faster-paced, rock sounding vocals. Her “melodious annunciations” much like in “Wild,” shine bright. The keyboard work is top-notch and keeps the song from falling into the trap of becoming too poppy with a female singer. This is one of the definite stand out tracks on “Glow.” (9/10)
6. Stay: This was the hardest track on the album to review. It has a bass guitar rhythm that really deserves compliment, but it took a few listens before it grew on me. (7/10)
7. Pick Up The Phone: This is definitely more pop than alternative. The line, “fighting like a tiger shark” jumps out as an especially interesting lyric on a track that has relatable , though sappy lyrics. A good one, just a bit poppy for my taste. (5.5/10)
8. Honey: This is one of those tracks with a catchy hook that get’s caught in your head. Gary and Nora trade verses before the catchy duet chorus where they sing “Honey I want you.” The keyboard work throughout the chorus can’t be understated as a major part lending to the song’s success. The verses prior to the first chorus may seem flat relative to the rest of the song, but they, along with the pause at the transition, create a necessary build up. (8.5/10)
9. Monster: The intro is stellar and an interlude begins around the 2:25 mark, which in my opinion is far and away the strength of the song. (5.5/10)
10. Waiting Here For You: This track has very solid verses that build up for a great chorus, but it seems to be the obligatory slow song on the album. It reminds me of “Into the Blue” on Rooney’s Eurkea, in that both seem to be forced on the album. The piano work is nice, but this was the only track I didn’t care for. (4.5/10)
11. Mais La: Royal Teeth just screams New Orleans, and while I have no connections or particular affinity for the area, I do love the infusion of local culture. Mais La is French for “I can’t believe it.” (Can anyone confirm?) With “Mais La,” the album ends with a great track written by Guitarist, Stevie Billeaud. Nora adds, as she does so well, those “melodious annunciations,” but this time paired with French. The intro also has the epic feel of the album’s finale while bass work and electronica sounds take it up another level. It is a good track to close on, but give it time. This one had to grow on me as often times music will require. (7.5/10)
I’ve listened to this album through a few times now, but even still I haven’t gotten to the point of deciphering all the lyrics so it’s likely to continue to “grow on me” and my opinions may change over that time. Such is the difficulty in writing album reviews. Hopefully, this serves as a good guide as to which songs to check out first and has sparked your interest in this young budding band.
Whenever I write an album review, the band’s most devoted groupies will somehow find my blog and lambaste me for not giving every song a 10. I would point you to the list of album reviews I’ve written (below) and note that this an overall score second only to “I’m With You” by The Red Hot Chili Pepper. So, with that, my final comments…
Glow succeeds as a very good debut album for Royal Teeth. Led by “Wild” the albums features more than just one good song. “We Can Glow,” “Vagabonds,” and “Honey” challenge it for the best track on the album. The album features great keyboard work, strong vocals, and a bit of variety thanks to the complimentary pairing of multiple lead singers. It’s an alt rock (and not bubblegum pop) album I can definitely recommend. Don’t forget you can download “Wild” for free here and see other album reviews below.
Other Album Reviews Links
Life Will Write the Words by The Rocket Summer
People and Things by Jack’s Mannequin
I’m With You by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
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