Veritas Est Rock

Paul Karner

As a relatively new person to the seedy world of college rock journalism I try my best to avoid the flippant use of superlatives and, to the best of my power, keep myself emotionally detached from any artist that I choose to dissect for you.
That being said, Baby Teeth may be the greatest band to come out of Chicago in the past few years, and they have managed to ignite my waning confidence in the moving trends that often seem to be a few hooks deep with the longevity of a quote from “Napolean Dynamite.”
To be blunt, Baby Teeth have risen out of a rather safe musical climate. With the influx of dance beats and synthesizers into the pearly white indie-rock culture, Baby Teeth’s retro pop sound with its disco beats and funky orchestrations is sure to find an audience in today’s music scene.
The problem is whether their potential fans will be able to embrace
the masterful songwriting for its merit rather than its kitsch factor. For those Lawrentians that were in attendance Saturday for Baby Teeth’s performance could testify to the marvel of front man Abraham “Pearly Sweets” Levitan towering over his keyboard while crooning with all the grace and pizzazz of a tall Jewish Stevie Wonder.
One listen to the band’s upcoming album “The Simp,” scheduled for release in March on Lujo Records, and any preconceived notions of irony and kitsch quickly subside. The driving swagger of “Dihagalev Was Right” manages to bring the band’s sweet vocal harmonies and “ooh ah” hooks together with some seriously rampant dance music. “God Girlfriend,” perhaps the sappiest song on the record, oozes over with smooth layers of guitar and synth that worm through the band’s signature harmonic wizardry.
From a musical standpoint, Baby Teeth write songs that manage to capture the harmonic intricacies of ’70s pop as well as the spirit. Where so many artists are satisfied with a standard disco beat and some retro-sounding synth lines, Baby Teeth has managed to craft songs that are catchy and smart, retro yet progressive.
This is undoubtedly due to the band’s actual appreciation for the kind of music they’re making. In a recent interview on WLFM, Levitan mentioned Electric Light Orchestra, Queen (and a slew of ’70s girl bands that eluded most of our gen-Y minds) as though they were part of a tradition rather than some shortsighted reaction to previously dissatisfying rock trends.
Levitan said, “A lot of people ask ‘are you guys being ironic?’ I mean, I’m not being ironic, so maybe I have just bad taste.” He followed with something that was as poignant as it was indignant. “I’d rather have bad taste than simply be ironic.” Irony fades, but I’ll be damned if my children don’t develop at least some appreciation for ELO.