There’s a dilemma that every songwriter faces: whether to be so vague that the listener might superimpose their own life, or whether to get so specific that the listener tumbles into the plot. Of course, the latter approach can wind up getting a writer into trouble. LISTEN / SHARE “DIANNE” VIA SOUNDCLOUD HERE
Teeth & Tongue – the musical project of Jess Cornelius – returns with her boldest album to date, Give Up on Your Health. Cornelius has crafted kitchen-sink dramas and relationship vignettes that follow a lineage from Ken Loach through Jarvis Cocker. As the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based songwriter explains, “In the past I’ve written personal material, but this album is more about observation. I was reading essays by [American poet] Eileen Myles and she has this stream-of-consciousness style, no filter.”
On the heels of a breakup, Cornelius retired to remote Iceland on a three-month Nes Artist Residency, where she wrote a lot of material like the heartbreaking ‘Small Towns’. But after returning to Melbourne, where Cornelius brought the material to the band: guitarist Marc Regueiro-McKelvie, bassist Damian Sullivan and drummer James Harvey; things took a turn. Unlike 2014’s more ambient Grids, in which the vocals were textured and layered, here they’re dominant over a grid of ’70s electronica. “I wanted to make an energetic dance-pop record, but with substance,” says Cornelius, “the kind you’d put on when you’re driving down the highway, forgetting all the stressful stuff.”
The band teamed up with co-producer Haima Marriott (Banoffee, Architecture in Helsinki), whose knowledge of vintage synths came in handy when referencing Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder. Vocally, it’s intriguing, with Cornelius alternating between being warm and gentle, and cool and detached.
Even in her darkest hour, Cornelius can’t help but rule with a pop aesthetic. After storming Australia with previous albums, earning love from Triple R, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, etc. and touring with Courtney Barnett on her 2016 album tour, Teeth & Tongue grace us with their addictive and unforgettable Give Up On Your Health which sees its release in September on Dot Dash / Captured Tracks.