Gloucestershire punk trio Milk Teeth have made quite a name for themselves on the UK’s post-hardcore circuit over the last five years, notching up coveted support slots with the likes of La Dispute and Pianos Become the Teeth, as well as gaining themselves mainstream recognition with appearances on festival bills and Radio 1 playlists. Having dropped their debut full-length album ‘Vile Child’ in January 2016, they are now releasing its self-titled follow-up.
‘Given Up’ is an enjoyably up-tempo opener but without making any bones about it, the album lacks the immediacy of its predecessor. In an odd way, frontwoman Becky Blomfield’s vocals on songs like ‘Better’, ‘Transparent’, and ‘Circles’ recall those on 90s bands like Hole, Elastica, and The Donnas. However, her more hard-edged bass-playing on ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Dilute’ (pleasingly) reminded me of noise punk bands like METZ and USA Nails.
‘Milk Teeth’ also has a far cleaner, more radio-friendly production sound than ‘Vile Child’ and the slower pace of songs like ‘Medicine’, ‘Wanna Be’, and ‘Smoke’ can cause the album to drag sometimes. However, the presence of newcomer Em Foster on guitar more than compensates for this. Her contributions to the band’s sound surpass those made by her predecessor Chris Webb, with ‘Flowers’ and ‘Sharks’ featuring particularly striking examples of her dynamic playing style.
This album sees Milk Teeth striking out into more power ballad-oriented, 90s rock radio-ish territory. Whether that is a good or a bad thing depends on the tastes of the individual listener of course, but personally I preferred their first album. If this sounds dismissive, then it’s not my intention; the band are still very young and experimenting with different styles, and there’s a lot to be said for moving forward as opposed to standing still on a second album.
What is unquestionable is that the band’s musicianship (notably the guitar and bass-playing) has improved considerably since their debut, and this augurs well for future sonic experimentation from Milk Teeth. Whilst the vocals and production values could have done with being a bit less clean, this is still an enjoyable sophomore effort that is a lot of fun to listen to. ‘Milk Teeth’ is out now via Music For Nations. Order it here.