Reviewed by Tony Rounce
“Peer assessment”. A practice they employ at my teenage daughter’s school, where she and her classmates are called upon to mark each other’s work. And something I now find myself doing with “Sharp Minds, Raised Fists” – the latest album from Hannah Lucy p.k.a. Gaptooth.
Y’see, when she’s not being Gaptooth, Hannah is a fellow member of Team Loud Women. Which could’ve been a bit tricky for me, if I hadn’t liked the album. Fortunately I do. Very much so. And I suspect that I am not going to be the only one to speak of it in glowing terms this month.
In a live environment, Gaptooth is a band. But on record (well, CD and download) it’s basically all Hannah, apart from some very occasional assistance with guitar parts. You may have caught Gaptooth’s set at Loud Women 4 recently. If you did you could not have been anything other than mightily impressed with Hannah’s pithy, funny, intelligently crafted lyrics, sung in her own attractive ‘London’ voice, and the immediate ear-friendliness of her tunes. Now you can relive them in the comfort of your own home. It’s my recommendation that you do so, and as soon as possible.
The absence of ‘real’ instruments on “Sharp Minds” does not detract from the excellence of the repertoire, the high quality of Hannah’s writing, or the strength of her poptastic melodies. Its dynamic opener ‘Post-Patriarchy Disco’ raises the bar for feminism in music, while the quite brilliant near-closer ‘Why I Left You Outside Pizza Express’ will resonate with anyone who has ever felt pressured to be half of a romantic partnership, just because everyone in their circle of friends expects them to.
In between there are 8 more songs that deal with harassment (‘Red Flags’ aimed at a sleazebag who is “Toxic, And Not In The Britney Sense”), confrontation (“I’m Going To Mention The Unmentionable”) anxious self analysis (“Did I State My Case? Did I Do My Best?” worries the central character of ‘Rewind And Replay’), domestic and ethnic violence (the sample-driven ‘They Cut, We Bleed’, here in two impressive mixes) and much more besides. All of them demanding your attention, and all of them more than worthy of it.
There isn’t room to examine each song in detail, but if you want just one highlight to sell you on the album I have the very thing right here. ‘Mixtape Song’’s ultra-poignant memoir of a youthful, bygone romance literally had me reaching for the Kleenex. I would imagine most of us will have had (or will at sometime have) ‘the relationship’ that we look back on with wistfulness, and wonder how the other person’s life has progressed since.
“Though I Never See You Now
I Still Believe In Certain Bonds That Never Break
So Send Me Your Co-Ordinates
I’m Making You A Tape.”
Haven’t we all at least wanted to do that for one person at least once? Kudos (and then some) to Hannah for articulating the sentiment so beautifully.
Bright and brash, filled with songs that any of our top tunesmiths would be proud to put their names under the titles of, “Sharp Minds, Raised Fists” comes to you with the 100% emphatic endorsement of this particular Loud Woman. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately purchased a physical copy of the CD from Bandcamp, even while I was reviewing it here from the sound files there. And what’s more I fully intend to follow up by investing in as much of Gaptooth’s back catalogue as I can lay my hands on, as quickly as I possibly can.
Now that IS positive “Peer Assessment” for you….
“Sharp Minds, Raised Fists” is available via Bandcamp right now. Hannah promises that Gaptooth will be playing more gigs in early 2020 if not before. Follow them on Facebook for all upcoming Gaptooth news.
Photos courtesy of and reproduced with kind permission.