The Grates | Teeth Lost, Hearts Won (Dew Process)

cd_grates.gif I love Patience Hodgson’s singing because she swears better than almost any singer (man, woman or other) out there.


Listening to The Grates’ new album is somewhat like landing in the midst of a really great party that is fully cooking. The drinks have been flowing, some things have been broken, and there is singer Patience Hodgson bouncing on the couch and screaming for everybody to get off their asses and party.

Let me get this out of the way first" I love Hodgson’s singing because she swears better than almost any singer (man, woman or other) out there. When she talks about sex you feel just a little dirty, and when she screams "Fuck the furies, fuck the queen…" you want to sing along — hell, you want to follow her into battle against the forces of fantasy evil. Hodgson is by far one of the best leads out there, charming in person and that charm translates well on to disc. The 13 tracks on Teeth Lost, Hearts Won package her enthusiasm and the playful angst of band mates John Patterson and Alana Skyring.

Teeth Lost, Hearts Won is definitely a major advance for the band. 2006’s Gravity Won’t Get You High was a fun but unrefined effort. Described variously as Australia’s answer to Sleater-Kinney and Be Your Own Pet, the band showed tremendous potential, but the album featured more misses than hits. Teeth, released in 2008 in Australia, shows the care and precision of a band that has toured hard and found its voice (not just Hodgson’s sassy banter, but overall tightness of sound and perverse message). Hodgson’s singing on Teeth is also much more assured and well incorporated into the overall sound; there is not a note out of place.

Songwriting with a twist is essential for The Grates. The songs often feature wickedly funny puns that have me listening over and over to make sure I really heard a line like "Milk eyes, what a surprise/I didn’t think I would be ordering [which Hodgson pronounces as "uddering"] for two/Little legs what do you say/why don’t we go and get some milkshake from boobs?" Admittedly, perhaps I have the mental age of a 14-year-old, but nuggets like this crack me up and have me replaying the songs in my head while sitting in a meeting or waiting for one too many cars at a red light. It is as if The Grates are drawing me in to their own private Alice in Wonderland. A song like "Earthquake," or one of the finest album openers ever, "Burn Bridges," offers ignition and charge to anyone’s musical batteries. They suck you in to The Grates’ world and make you forget all that is dull around you. Even during "Storms & Fevers," what would be considered a melancholy song for the band, you still want to be on The Grates’ team.

The band offers enthusiasm and the ability to laugh at what scares us, along with the essential belief that we will grow up brave and strong as long as we remember life is serious…but never so serious that you can’t bounce on a couch now and again. Teeth Lost, Hearts Won is a sonic album with all the ingredients of a great party mix. B+ | Jim Dunn

RIYL: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sleater-Kinney, Be Your Own Pet 

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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