Smileswithteeth ~ Suddenly Constantly

If you’re scouring the web for a short, sugary, summer blast, Smileswithteeth delivers.  The artist otherwise known as Gabriel Gutierrez has been consistently bringing the goods, and this time he’s landed an especially cool cover, courtesy of the curiously monikered deadtheduck.  Despite the similarity in spacing, they are not the same person, although one suspects their friends have similar names.  This is all part of the wink the artist delivers by making music that seems deceptively simple but is in fact incredibly complex.

There are a lot of layers in these tracks.  Just listen to “June” a few times and attempt to decipher all of the components.  On the surface, we hear the beats, the chimes, the stuttered chillwave vocals ~ hallmarks of Smileswithteeth since his inception.  But then there’s the woodblock, the maraca, the inversion at the center, the swift snare solo, and the curious bass twist at the end.  Suddenly Constantly is a good name for music that is suddenly, constantly changing.  The idea comes from an experience in Iceland, marked by unusual juxtapositions of landscape, echoed in the cover art.  “We Fight in the Prettiest Places” is inspired by such changes as metaphor: the blur seen from a car, “the feeling of losing someone despite your best intentions”.  The background explains the “cruel world” sample of “Almost”, which seems to battle the musical tone; this is bright music with a melancholic undercurrent.

The EP’s only misstep is “We Fight”s overuse of a popular sample from Lyn Collins and James Brown’s “Think (About It)”, which was worn out by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock back in 1988.  There’s no escaping the fact that we know this sample, which makes the otherwise creative music seem overly familiar.  A strong recovery is made in “Mornings”, which restores the sense of blurry motion.  As the brass swirls around the background, waiting for an opportunity to shine forth, the drums deny it the foreground; they are simply having too much fun.  When the music takes a plunge at 2:37, it’s an indication that the daydream is over; it’s time to get back to work, but the respite has been rejuvenating.  (Richard Allen)


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