Classic Album Review
by: Carpenter brut
Written By: Big Finger Ro
Published On: November 9th, 2021
Album released February 22, 2018
Carpenter Brut mentioned in an interview with Synthspiria that his music doesn’t have an insane number of fans, and the reason he gave for this was:
“People need to be ‘in on the prank’ to enjoy what [he does]”.
At first glance, this could be chalked up to a common behavior with some music fans, where the listener is expected to “dig deeper” about the artist in question, and enjoy the works more often for their background than for the work itself. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Leather Teeth is an fascinating album because, when compared to the artist’s previous work, some might feel it’s Brut’s worst so far. Too far departed from the last albums, too cynical, too different. And that impression could remain.. until the listener sees the videos that go along with each song. The videos present the audience with a unique story in a format very seldom seen in synthwave. The classic story of the bullied nerd, turned to darkness and out for revenge.. Presented through the lens of everything and everyone else, a complete outsider perspective. It created context for the album. And then it all makes sense. It’s what brings it all together.
First up, the slowest song in the album. “Leather Teeth” is very grandiose, very over the top, and is the closest to CB’s older work. The inclusion of the choir is especially notable as it establishes a leitmotif of sorts. It’s as if the song was heralding the coming of a great calamity, and the video shows this perfectly. It serves you different pieces of footage of different dead jocks and cheerleaders, paired with flashes of newspapers reporting on these mysterious killings. And then at the very end, just to completely drive the point home, the video lays it very clearly for you: No one is safe from the Midwich Monster.
Here, the beat picks up the pace slightly; “Cheerleader Effect” shows the “descent to hell” of our main character, Bret Halford. The song itself has this rock ballad feel to it, as if to try to show Bret’s sensitivity, or loss thereof. The video shows parts of Bret’s life, how he gets beat up by bullies, how he’s in love with Kendra McCornish, the cheerleader, who, in keeping with genre tradition, wouldn’t even fart in his general direction. But here’s the interesting spin, the video makes a point of showing Kendra being slutty and all, partly to show what hurt Bret so much, and partly to show, with some moderation so as to not blow its load too early, the excess of the era, a common theme throughout the album.
The next song, “Monday Hunt,” picks up the pace again. The galloping beat, super common in metal and rock, suits the theme perfectly — as if to put you in Bret’s place, charging a horde of enemies and mowing them down. Regarding the video: Suffice it to say that YT had a choice between the original and a version in which brand logos and dismembered limbs crudely cover everything, and it chose the latter (Be sure to read the apology letter at the beginning, written with utmost sincerity and regret.) It shows how Bret kills, one by one, all the jocks that tormented him, including Kendra herself. The interesting thing here is, Bret kills everyone in his list here. The crux of his story isn’t his revenge; that gets dealt with as fast as possible. By the end, we see Bret fully embracing his persona, by completely tearing off his burnt skin (warning: Utopia District does not endorse removing scar tissue or damaged skin for dramatic purposes or otherwise. Seriously, don’t.)
“Inferno Galore” is also very much like CB’s former work, very fast, very heavy on the synth. Again, picking up the pace, as if to show everything coming to a boil, slowly but surely. The video hits the nail millimetrically on the head. Now we see a much bigger interest in showing the environment in which Bret and everyone else was in. And, once more, the decadence of the era, now much more intensely. There is a hard shift from kinda light-hearted to full dark near the end of the song. This is, again, so you don’t forget the looming threat of Leather Teeth who, even if he already has embraced being a rockstar, still engages in being able to do whatever he wants and will just kill for pleasure.
Songs keep getting faster still, we’re coming close to an end. We now see the second time vocals are used. Pure 80’s hair metal tropes here, as expected from Bret’s band, “Leather Patrol.” Everything from the lyrics to the beat of the song and the instrumentation screams hair metal. Except, perhaps, for the drums in certain parts, where they sound decidedly synthesized, so as to stay “in-genre” and not just make a hair metal song. We’re treated to some insight into the life of excess that Leather Patrol lives, from crowded concerts to steamy exchanges with fans.
A well-deserved break, a much more calm and much more cynically comical song. We’re fully on keytar territory here, and the beat is casual like a month’s end Friday at the office. It oozes of sleaze, like a Cocaine Cowboy. Pure 80’s sound tropes all around. The song is a shameless tribute to synthpop and the video keeps up by being a full tribute to 80s commercials. We have scantily clad girls with guns, mascots, and a nice news report on Rev. Godshyne’s fall from grace and eventual grisly death. It’s not very clear whether Leather Teeth killed him or if he just drunkenly stumbled into the plane’s turbine, but it doesn’t matter, as the idea here is to show how he was punished for his excesses and scams.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is time. Time to open this pit up.
The climax of the album. Everything reaches a boil as we’re treated to the peak of the high. The fastest song, where we see the logical conclusion to the whole album’s overstatement of things. The guitar delves almost into power metal, with its hard but energetic sound. The synth’s arpeggios make the song sound almost like a classical piece; The whole song has an intense vibe of not-so-faux sophistication the artist is known for. It shows us how Leather Patrol, which is Leather Teeth’s band, wins every award at the HTV awards, and we’re treated to all the “music videos” of the award-winning hits (Once again, YT chooses crude censorship of nudity, and not violent murder. How admirable!). Almost as if to show you Bret is pretty much invincible now, he interrupts the video and shows his face, taunting people, daring them to stop him. The ending is very much the climax of the album, punctuated by lightning and all.
The album ends with a song that goes into Miami Vice territory of synths, initially trying to ease the audience. Like it was trying to say “Relax, man, it’s just a tv show, not real!”. After the album reaches its highest point speed-wise, coming down to almost the same speed as the first song is a logical step. But then, almost at the end, the song reiterates the album’s overstatements, to finish with a choir reminiscent of the first song. The album finishes with a threat/promise that Bret Halford will return for the movie’s sequel, which, when presented simultaneously with the song’s ominous ending, continues the statement presented before with a “…or is it?”, like it was trying to tell the audience it may escape Bret, but not for long. He’s too powerful now. So now, all that is left is to await the punishment, the real scourge that is Bret in Leather Terror.
Leather Terror, the follow-up album, is scheduled to release in early 2022. Be sure to stay tuned!
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