Gaptooth, Connections/Departures, Gaptooth Music
Hannah Lucy has a day job that takes her on a continuing tour of the world’s conflict zones, working for a peace-promoting charity. It’s lucky for lovers of intelligent alternative pop that she uses that medium to vent anger and have fun, when she adopts her Gaptooth guise. Electronic indie-pop is Gaptooth’s default setting, with club-friendly beats alongside retro electronic bubbles and squeaks reminiscent of the sadly missed Broadcast. There’s also plenty of guitar, both ferocious fuzz toned rock attack and protest-folk strumming.
What unites it all is excellent songwriting. Connections/Departures places Hannah Lucy in that premier league of wise, witty lyricism reserved for supreme wordsmiths like Jarvis Cocker and Jenny Lewis. It’s variously angry, funny and tender, full of observations that make you laugh out loud or wince with recognition.
Gaptooth is overtly political, proudly declaring her feminism. “Ladykillers” sets a succinct analysis of the contemporary female condition to a dance pulse and an Elastica-esque guitar-driven chorus. It doesn’t pull its lyrical punches, alluding to sexual assault statistics: “…When he’s got you pinned to the bed/Becoming a part of the one in three/The right to vote/Will not set you free”.
It takes a special way with words to take the name given to an infamous military operation and use it for a love song. Gaptooth does just that in ‘Enduring Freedom’, whose opening lines certainly grab attention. “I only just fell from the womb all wet and screaming/Now I’m supposed to be a functioning adult” laments Hannah Lucy, before functioning very successfully in a charmingly awkward, tentative, vulnerable duet with Trademark’s Oli Horton.
‘Tigerstrikes’ is upbeat and tough, following another killer opening gambit – “I’m always the DJ and never the bride” – with a kiss-off to a condescending mansplainer. ‘These Machines’ angrily analyses the forces that divide and rule us all, while the gentler ‘Plans and Friends and Records’ is the funniest song about heartbreak I’ve heard in many a long month. The jokes stop dead with the chilly beauty of ‘Same Ghost Every Night’, which seems to confront an unnameable trauma; and then the rousing guitar-fueled polemic of ‘Take It Down’ ends things with defiant dissent.
There are so many quotable lines, but I don’t want to spoil all the many delightful surprises in store on Connections/Departures. It may be wrong of me to want Hannah Lucy to be distracted from her charitable works, but the music world badly needs her.