Released on Alcopop Records, 2010’s ‘Territories’ found Northampton four-piece My First Tooth becoming a regular fixture on the festival circuit, winning a passionate army of fans and being heavily featured on Hollyoaks. Anyone lucky enough to have seen their performance at 2011’s Glastonbury will still remember the beaming smiles on the faces of all the members as they wowed the crowd and melted a few hearts. Now they make their return with their second long player Love Makes Monsters, was it worth the wait?
Opening song ‘Claw to Club’ finds the band back in familiar ‘territories’ with the violin-led track being complemented by a jangly bouncing atmosphere, in the instrumentation at least. There’s talk of heartbreak and you can hear the emotion in Ross Witt’s voice as he states ‘You know that I wanted love, but leaving’s just a reason to return’ while he also discusses becoming parents and raising families. ‘Past Broadcasts’ is the band’s recent single and shows how over the last couple of years, they’ve developed more of an intensity in their songwriting. Perfectly driven along by a violin and the significant boy-girl vocals that are always played out at just the right time, it’s a festival anthem in waiting. Perhaps more ‘serious’ than anything they’ve released before Witt sings about ‘rustic radios’ while the music recalls some of The National’s more composed moments.
‘Hawk in Harness’ opens with solely vocals and there’s an urgency in Witt’s voice as he sings ‘we keep the windows closed’ and ‘I can’t love you by myself’. Planning for the future – and how it doesn’t always pan out the way we hoped – seems to be a running theme throughout this album and none more so than on this track, which also includes a fantastically strutting breakdown around the 2-minute mark. The band sound so much more assured on this album, possibly because it has been more of a collective effort and every member seems to have their moment to shine, although the lyrics still retain the personal tone and the likes of Springsteen and Cohen are clearly big influences. ‘Heartbeat Retreat’ is the single that its name deserves. With a more electric sound at the fore, it has deliberately overstated vocals stating ‘We won’t complain, we’ll wait for the rain’.
Halfway through the album comes the two-part ‘Into the Wild’, ‘Part. 1’ is all sweetness with impassioned vocals and plenty of violin, while this classic sound evolved into something much darker on ‘Part. 2’ which has a Nick Cave-esque atmosphere. This dramatic change is confirmed further when the almost-shouted vocals towards the end reveal yet another side to My First Tooth. The acoustic-led opening to ‘Small Crimes’ herald the start of another singalong hit that discusses how small things can easily grow and evolve, like the way ‘library fines’ can morph into ‘cocaine lies’. There’s a real desire in the vocals which indicate this is a subject close to the band’s heart – and one that they’re not going to let lie. With beautiful harmonies and evocative instrumentation, this is a real highlight. The memorable album title comes from the track ‘Monsters’, a song that combines the unbridled joy of those songs from ‘Territories’ with the more introspective outlook displayed throughout this album. Despite love making monsters, Witt states “You’ll be back for more”. And on this form, he’s right, you definitely will.
Buy ‘Love Makes Monsters’ here.
Released 4 March 2013.