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Sink Ya Teeth - Sink Ya Teeth Music Album Reviews

Sink Ya Teeth - Sink Ya Teeth Music Album Reviews
Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford channel ESG, Liquid Liquid, and New Order but surpass mere genre mimicry on a debut album that captures the feeling as well as the sounds of classic dance music.

If you have even a passing interest in the last 40 years of dance culture, Norwich duo Sink Ya Teeth’s debut is sure to sound familiar—and that's the point. Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford’s self-titled album is a veritable archive of au courant reference points: the rubbery basslines of Liquid Liquid, ESG’s call-and-response dance-punk, the alluring menace of dark disco, New Order’s synthetic ecstasy, the cold atmospherics of electro. These sounds have been revived before, notably during the 2000s, as the retro-futurist electroclash movement and the side-long revelries of early DFA gave way to bloghouse, a microgenre that played fast and loose with dance music’s past. Now, nostalgia for ’80s club music also calls back to that period.

But Sink Ya Teeth surpasses mere genre mimicry, as Uzor and Cullingford channel the feeling as well as the sounds of classic dance music. Style is easy to copy, but attitude is hard to fake, and Sink Ya Teeth have plenty of the latter. “I feel a little depressed/A little melancholy at best,” they intone in deadpan unison on breakout single “If You See Me,” their disaffection a perfect match for the dry beat and rubbery bass. In an interview with M magazine, Uzor described the squiggly track “Pushin’” as channeling a “frenzied and almost sexualized addiction to religion and salvation.” When she sings, “And when the sermon begins/She feels the tears of a thousand years of sin/But he keeps pushin’,” it evokes dance music's long relationship with carnality and guilt, from Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” to the opening of LCD Soundsystem’s 45:33.

As UK music industry veterans—Uzor previously made hazy psych-folk as Girl in a Thunderbolt, while Cullingford played bass in early-2000s indie act Kaito—Sink Ya Teeth know their way around a recording studio. At its best, the album’s clean, glassy sheen reflects that expertise. These high-fidelity songs demand to be heard as FLAC files; every element in the mix sounds flawlessly isolated but meshes seamlessly with its surroundings. As the duo’s influences suggest, this is music-nerd music made by music nerds: In the winking intro of opener “Freak 4 the Kick,” a single kick drum (get it?) gives way to a leather-jacket synth line and Uzor and Cullingford’s floaty vocals. Modern dance music of all stripes tends to bear the mark of its wholly computerized creation, but Sink Ya Teeth sounds distinctly human, the work of flesh and blood and pure ability.

For all their talent, the pair has yet to establish a distinctive musical personality. Throughout their self-titled album, Sink Ya Teeth prove they can convincingly handle a plethora of styles—but it remains to be seen whether there’s more to their retro-modern aesthetic than capable replication. Their debut is enough to spark curiosity about where they’ll take their sound next, though, and that’s no small accomplishment. In the 21st century, dance and indie music have been so littered with nostalgic variations on old sounds that it’s become hard to get excited about any artist who crafts songs by thumbing through the history books (or thrice-ripped YouTube clips). But Sink Ya Teeth are primed to make the past new again.

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