Unrest started off as a sort of lo-fi mess that seemed to make music for several different audiences all at the same time. Almost-novelty tunes, spoken word, minimalist pop experiments, and rackety post-hardcore sometimes showed up immediately after one another on the same album. The only other band I can even think of that regularly put together so many songs that don’t even belong on the same album would probably be Eric Gaffney-era Sebadoh. BUT THEN- on their last two albums, Unrest focused more on the “minimalist pop experiments” side of their sound, and not only made two records that sounded like one band, but made the two best of their career.
Perfect Teeth is the second of these two albums. The former, Imperial f.f.r.r., is great, but there are a few songs that go on way too long and don’t really do anything (see the title track). While Perfect Teeth has a little less variety, it fully carries through the minimal sound that the band was developing, and the result is an entire album of incredibly simple pop songs- and I’m not joking about them being “simple”- every song but one is strictly undistorted guitar (usually strummed very quickly), a bass guitar, drums, and vocals- maybe an occasional small piano part too. The one tune that isn’t, “Food & Drink Synthesizer,” is an electronic sort of piece, purely there for transitional purposes- although it does seem to defeat the statement on the insert that claims no synthesizers were used on the album.
Highlights, you say? Well, Perfect Teeth is initially kind of oddly sequenced, though it doesn’t matter because the songs are so good. It opens with one of the slowest and most vocal-oriented tracks, “Angel I’ll Walk You Home,” which might trick you into thinking the album’s going to be a little more “sensitive” than it really is, but then it’s followed immediately by album’s the fastest and most frantically strummed song, “Cath Carroll” (who happens to be the woman on the cover and the first wife of former Big Black guitarist Santiago Durango). The rest fully explores the area between these two songs, focusing on incredibly satisfying guitar/bass interplay (particularly on “West Coast Love Affair”) and peaks at the goddamn-masterpiece-of-a-pop-single, “Make Out Club.”
Oh, and if any of this seems too “wimpy” (well, I guess some of it kind of is), there’s still evidence that the band has a weirdo sense of humor/inappropriateness to them- I don’t know if all formats have it, but if you look at the LP insert under a bright light, there’s a pleasant picture of a man with a giant mustache cooking dinner with his penis fully exposed. This would later be used much more visibly as on the cover of the following year’s Animal Park 7″- go ahead, Google image search it- and yes, I am aware that this is the second time I’ve highlighted male frontal nudity in album inserts on this blog.
Download the whole, peen-exposin’ album here:
Bonus link to the “Make Out Club” music video on Youtube: