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Teeth & Tongue : Grids

Not only is Grids the best Teeth & Tongue recording from Jess Cornelius, it’s the album that best shows her range. One moment she’s lurching seductively from her piano like Tori Amos (Good Man), the next she’s strapping on a guitar for a cathartic Adalita-type rocker (More Than This) or evoking the restrained hysteria of early Kate Bush (I Feel Good). This is all packed into the first 15 minutes, as is the revelatory single Newborn, which works so well despite it being such an atypical composition for both Cornelius and guest vocalist Laura Jean.
 
There are a variety of styles and tempos spread across the album, but the sum of these parts is a very consistent and cohesive work. There’s a therapeutic slant to the lyrics – so you’d expect the style-hopping songs to leap about in accordance with wild mood swings – but throughout there’s a constant grounding acceptance of not always being on top of the world and letting the lows wash over you until your next high hits. Newborn is caught in the glow of a spiritual awakening, but uncertainty is exposed in the self-reflective verses and the following track acknowledges that this state of bliss is momentary: “Sometimes, but not that often… for one small moment in time, I feel good.”
 
Reminders that we shouldn’t take for granted that we’re living in the First World and be satisfied with what we have crop up in uptempo, guitar-driven tracks More Than This and Easy Living. A minor criticism of these two tracks is that they both have rather abrupt fade-outs, occurring at a point where it feels as if the songs have more to give. What doesn’t show through in the final album is the protracted studio time; instead, there’s a freshness and straightforwardness to the production that is in keeping with the stoic lyricism and the more layered approach never weighs down the compositions.
 
Grids explores issues such as self-growth, acceptance and mutual understanding. It’s far from coming across as a wishy-washy self-help guide, though; Cornelius is sounding assured, playful and ready to take on the world.
 
BY CHRIS GIRDLER                                                                                
 
Best Track: Family Home
If You Like These, Youll Like This:The Haunted Man BAT FOR LASHES, Let England Shake PJ HARVEY
In A Word: Centered