THIS IS FOR MY FRIENDS: “THROUGH MY TEETH" | Album Review
You want DIY? This is DIY-- mixed and recorded in Garageband and all, folks. Based out of Winston Salem, NC, Alex Muller’s This Is For My Friends is expressive journal therapy turned musical. Muller’s honest, poetic voice atop the sometimes-simple, sometimes-techincal, always-captivating melodies of his most recent album, Through My Teeth, will keep you curious and interested throughout. This is his third full-length album and his first in four years.
His lead track, “Pop Hooks,” is beautifully weird, simple, and full with a percussion track that kept my head a-groovin’. Muller acknowledges his simple approach to the song in his synthed-out Vocoder voice, “Two chords, all I need is two chords.” The second track, “Anger,” is a personal favorite and features a welcome transition to an organic voice. This track exudes an aura equal parts sunday morning walk to brunch, fireside lovemaking, and melancholy. “Anger” ditches the simple two chord progressions for some more carefully crafted sounds to compliment the heavily poetic lyrics and accompanying imagery. Here, is where Muller really shows his chops for word manipulation and professes lyrics like “shape your anger like a prayer / fold it into a fist now.”
“What Then” features my favorite melody of the album--a magically catchy and driving force. The instrumentation is technical and beautiful but doesn’t distract from the relatable content questioning the sincerity of others and challenging the “I’ll always remember you” ritual of goodbyes with those you won’t really remember. This tune bleeds well into the acoustic “Red House No. 3” which has a familiar melody-- a callback to “What Then” with a fittingly more muted intensity. “Red House No. 3” paints a melancholic picture and captures the sentiment of emptiness. Muller’s guitar is a compelling pair to emotional and haunting lines like, “This house is a bag of coins I’ve spent on payphone calls.”
Muller heads up the second half of the album with “Elise.” This song has a real sunny day, driving down the coast vibe. To me, it was the least elusive song on the album featuring tangible, satisfying lyrics. The homemade percussion on pots and pans just adds to the particularly personal track and transports the listener to a time and place of particular contentment and memorableness.
What better way to wrap things up than a return to the weirdness you met at the beginning of the album? “Honesty” is a nice change of pace with unlikely samples of anime and famous beat-generation poet, Allen Ginsberg. And “Bell” is a simple, acoustic track that I thought to be a fitting send-off.
Through My Teeth is an easy listen with truly remarkable lyrics. The 35-minute, lo-fi acoustic jammer is definitely worth your time. Listen to it in your room, on the bus, wherever-- just listen to it. I hope that we can expecting more from Alex Muller’s This is For My Friends in the future.
Check out more from This Is For My Friends here.