With ‘Say Nothing (In The Absence Of Content)’, Sharptooth point self-aware critical fingers at both pop & hardcore.
When I first saw the new music video from Sharptooth, ‘Say Nothing (In The Absence Of Content),’ the second single off their forthcoming album, ‘Transitional Forms,’ I had a good hearty chuckle. The whole clip is this big jab at the weird aesthetics of pop artists like your Lady Gaga’s, the raunchy and sexualized images of your Kesha’s, and much more specifically, parodying and mocking Katy Perry’s ‘California Girls‘ video. It’s a goofy film clip, all set to a fierce and riffy hardcore mosh track, and one where you can tell that Sharptooth had a lot of fun putting it together; taking aim at a lack of real lyrical or thematic substance in the poppy musical content that dominates the charts.
Of course, hardcore or metal bands making fun of pop music is extremely old-hat by now. It’s a method that does also reak much of “boomer-energy”; like that hilariously awful advertisement that Green Day put out earlier this year for ‘Father Of All Motherfuckers.’ Obviously, a song being ‘pop’ or ‘heavy’ doesn’t inherently make it good or bad. And there’s plenty of interesting artists within the nebulous pop sphere that can create thought-provoking videos or songs. It’s just that those artists and compositions are often not what tops streaming platforms, radios and charts. So upon first viewing, the video for ‘Say Nothing (In The Absence Of Content),’ whilst quite entertaining and with a solid hardcore track underneath it to boot, did also feel like a really lazy “pop bad, heavy good” approaches. But then I read the lyrics.
As reading this songs’ lyrics whilst listening is what really made me take full attention of ‘Say Nothing,’ as it goes far beyond that of pop music. Fun lyrical gems from fire-breathing vocalist Lauren Kashan like “mosh call, generic mosh call” during the song’s wicked breakdown or the pre-breakdown build-up of “Now this is the part of the song. Where we slow shit way down for you. So you can all kill each other” act as amusing yet accurate meta-commentaries on where hardcore, metalcore, and such sub-genres are at right now in terms of structures, styles, and listener expectations. The self-aware, semi-call-out nature of the lyrics makes it feel like it was written by comedian-musicians like Jarrod Alonge or Jared Dines, just without all of the memes and with maybe a little more heart. It’s a cheeky mirror held up to the songwriting tropes of hardcore music, asking us to think harder about what we really want out of our favourite bands and from our preferred forms of music. Heavy or otherwise.
The true irony in Sharptooth making fun of vapid artists and thoughtless songs with their latest single is that they’re actually saying quite a lot: “Now we start the dissection. Of everything other than feeling, Like opinions and values, the things that we use. To give our art some meaning.” The five-piece have actually put some kind of dialogue into their art with this new single and video package; imploring others in hardcore (or pop or whatever) to use their platforms to say something real, something with meaning.
What’s all so great about this is that you can tell Sharptooth aren’t being super serious about it. The fun video ideas, the awesome femme energy, and the self-aware lyrical daggers about pop and heavy music alike are all combined with an actually enjoyable, well-written hardcore fight song that doesn’t get tiresome or boring. Which should help put Sharptooth and their new record atop your radar of fierce new 2020 releases. Because it’s up there for me right now.
The first single for Sharptooth’s second album was ‘Mean Brain,’ a song about mental health and the cruel voice within our own heads. In a recent press release, Lauren spoke about the importance that ‘Transitional Forms‘ holds for her, sharing that:
“Ultimately, the record is about a paradigm shift, from hopelessness to self compassion, and the fundamental realization that nothing in this world or in ourselves is ever black and white. It’s the story of my personal struggle with the societal, interpersonal, and internal constructs that have left me feeling small, afraid, broken, and utterly hopeless. It is easily the most intensely personal collection of songs I have ever written, and I am so deeply appreciative of Lance and Keith for trusting me in that, and for creating this incredibly dark and intense sonic space for me to tell this story.”
‘Transitional Forms‘ follows up the band’s debut LP ‘Clever Girl,’ and it arrives July 10th via Pure Noise.