In a scene largely represented by straight white men, Sharptooth aim to make waves in the hardcore scene as a female fronted band with their debut full length album "Clever Girl". The album was recorded in their hometown of Baltimore, Maryland by Paul Leavitt at Valencia Recording. (Credits include All Time Low, The Dangerous Summer, Senses Fail, Darkest Hour, The Used, and many others) The band was founded in late 2012 and it's current lineup consists of singer Lauren Kashan, guitarists Keith Higgins and Lance Donati, and bassist/vocalist Phil Rasinski.
This 11 track album clocks in at just over 30 minutes and is, from start to finish, a full on assault. Opening with "Rude Awakening", we are eased into the aggression that follows this rapidly building introduction to the album. It also serves as an introduction into vocalist Lauren's mind. "[...] Inside me there is a violence that only screaming could ever silence". It quickly becomes clear there's some grievances to be aired, as this album touches on a variety of hot button issues, ranging from gender equality, systemic racism, the LGBTQ community, feminism, rape culture, hate-filled religious doctrine, and our current fuck stick sad excuse of a celebrity president.
The music alone, without any lyrics, is enough to make you want to start breaking everything in sight. It's clever, original, memorable, and overall just heavy where it needs to be, fast in all the right places, and perfectly accompanies the message behind the lyrics.
The instrumentation manages to be intricate, simple, heavy, and beautiful all in one song. Without a doubt, every member of this band is an absolute master of their instrument and possesses a deep understanding of musical composition in a way that makes sense to the listener, but also adds a degree of chaos and unpredictability.
The album is absolutely fucking brutal, but the music isn't the forefront of this album. Lauren's words and message hits heavier than any breakdown on this record. They are painfully honest, often to the point of discomfort, but this is the point of hardcore. I think I've been living in the land of pop punk, broken teen hearts, best friends, and pizza for too long, but the hardcore scene has long promoted a progressive message of resistance, and it expects nothing less.
-The lyrics are aggressive and demanding, but not alienating-
Lauren's vocal performance on this record is nothing short of fantastic. Her screams: searing and guttural, lyrics: targeted and unapologetic. They make you question whether you're a part of the problem or the solution. Nothing about this album is passive. You are taken along for the ride and you will hear and do whatever the band wants you to. You come out on the other end slightly exhausted, but enlightened, and ready to give the world hell.
that you spend creating hate
Is another lie, another life
that wasn’t yours to take.
So if you think your words are harmless
Tell that to those who are dead.
Every time that you say “faggot”
Is a bullet through my head."
-No Sanctuary by Sharptooth
The production on this album is fucking on point. Paul Leavitt absolutely killed this record. The only thing I was left wanting more of was a little bit more low end on the bass guitar, but it certainly doesn't take away from the album as a whole.
What I loved the most about the production was its polished, but still slightly raw presentation. Songs like the album closer "Pushing Forward" that feature a full chorus with clean vocals stand out, not only on the album, but against other bands in the genre. Nowadays we often hear wildly over produced epics for choruses, with every vocal line triple tracked, pitch corrected to oblivion, and drowned out in an echo chamber of delay and reverb. In keeping with the sincerity and unrestricted honesty of the album, these vocal parts appear to be left mostly untouched, and this is a trend I would like to see more bands follow.
To grieve, and to breathe, and to heal and to hope.
Where their stigmas and their standards, they all go up in smoke.
Where I became awake when I was rudely awoke."
-Pushing Forward by Sharptooth
If you haven't figured it out already, I love this album. Everyone involved in the making this record should be extremely proud, as it cements Sharptooth on the list of bands to look out for. If you don't see them touring alongside Stick to Your Guns or Every Time I Die in the near future, something has gone terribly wrong.