Identity makes for a slippery, poetic quality in Babytooth songs. There are several lyrics on the Portland quartet’s new EP that reckon with the difficulty of seldom, constantly or finally admitting that you are who you’ve been becoming. Easier to pinpoint in singer and songwriter Isabel Zacharias’ verses are the breadcrumbs of identity, the ones we don’t think so much about choosing: yearbook signature cliches, coin collections, dearly departed fish, smartphones plopped in cups. The EP is run through with an obsessively declarative lyrical stance in the vein of John Darnielle (The Mountain Goats), equal parts world-building and defiant.
But then there’s Zacharias’ second voice (her fluid, supercharged falsetto) and that of the band, often threatening to explode throughout the EP’s five weighty tracks. Although the songs often start out in a contained indie rock mode that throws back to 2000s staples like Land Of Talk, Babytooth lead guitarist Annie Fifer’s howling delay pedal often turns their songs to foreboding territory. The melding of lyrical introspection and instrumental catharsis is the main appeal here, but the record also features the occasional curveball, like Elise Cramer’s unpredictable, conclusive drum fills and saxophone on “Nothing.”
Babytooth’s debut EP, “Thataway,” was recorded by Vin Christopher (Heavy Meadow Sound) at Forget This Studio in Portland. The album is out via Bud Tapes on July 30, but you can pre-order the EP now at Bandcamp. Proceeds from digital sales will benefit Don’t Shoot PDX and Portland Action Medics.
Editor’s note: Isabel Zacharias is an employee of KMHD, which OPB operates out of its Portland headquarters.