Album Review: The Racketeers – Toothache

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, is a lesson we are taught from an early age. In this case, with The Racketeers’ second album Toothache, it’s don’t judge an album by its title. Rather than searing pain and constant discomfort, this album features hazy guitar, casual punky vocals and zesty rhythms. So, don’t book that dentist appointment just yet – toothache has never felt so good.  

The Racketeers, Leeds locals, are composed of Joe Mosley (guitar and vocals), Joe Dean (guitar and vocals), Alex Scrowther (bass) and Mike Johansson (drums). Their particular recipe of indie rock fuses flavours of garage revival with shoegaze-y textures. There’s a real ambition in their sound, throughout Toothache you can hear loads of influences drawn from a wide range of artists. Having been in the pipeline for a year, this album is bursting at the seams to be heard.

The Racketeers (left to right): Alex Scrowther, Joe Dean, Joe Mosley and Mike Johansson

Toothache presents listeners with four pre-released tracks alongside five new. Nestling older fan favourites, such as ‘Hey Smile (It’s Been a While)’, amongst fresh material, this album documents their hard work of the past few years. Beginning with ‘Sundown’, a road trip anthem that demands you roll down the windows, is an excellent jumping off point. Speaking on the lead single, Joe identifies a “slow Kurt Vile inspired groove”. It’s this kind of mood which lends the track an air of Americana (although the howling certainly helps!)

Another undeniable highlight of the album is ‘Glitter’, a track released in March last year that thankfully made the cut. It opens with an almost Eagles of Death Metal riff before smoky vocals and a peppery rhythm kicks in. The momentum created by the bass and drums frankly propels the track into overdrive – I dare you to try and sit still! Therefore, despite the somewhat lacklustre chorus (“I tried not to kiss her, but she was wearing glitter”), it’s definitely one of the most accomplished songs on the album. An honourable mention about Toothache, and of course The Racketeers more generally, is the guitar. Almost every track is sprinkled with phenomenal licks, riffs and solos – they’re seismic!

The Racketeers: Joe Dean and Joe Mosely

However, the album also sees moments of palpable meditative reflection, capturing something beneath the surface. On the title and cover, Joe talks about growing up and that the “things you start to do in your 20s are actually terrible for you and the world as a whole but you still do them because they feel good at the time. You can get enticed by lots of sweet stuff but end up with a weird feeling that something’s wrong.” This dash of disillusion imbues tracks such as ‘Orange and Hazy’, ‘Hey Smile (It’s Been a While)’ and the ballad-esque ‘No Show’. ‘Climbing The Walls’, the final track on the album, has elements of this disquiet. One of the more stripped back numbers, the listeners focus is drawn to the oscillating vocals. There’s audible emotion which makes it quite moving.

All in all, Toothache has something for everyone. Whether you want high-intensity indie anthems or self-reflective shoegaze ballads – this band can do it all. The Racketeers are no strangers to a gig. Having performed in and around Leeds for years as well as venturing out to places such as Huddersfield, Northwich and Sheffield, they show no sign of fatigue. With the unpredictability of our current moment, it’s unclear when we’ll see them next in Leeds. But, watch this space – they’ll be back.

The verdict: A packet of crisps SPECIFICALLY bought at a motorway services. Some of the best moments listening to Toothache are the bits that feel like a road trip, windows down with the wind in your hair. What’s the best part of a road trip other than the snacks?? You can pick what you like, mine will be a share bag of salt and vinegar squares (that I probs wont share…) Start your engines!

Listen for yourself:

Keep ya eyes peeled! The Racketeers will be releasing an alternative version of ‘Sundown’ in the coming weeks…

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