A record chock full of wonder, Charming Pet GIFs, the debut LP from New Mexico-based Straight White Teeth is a vivid dreamscape of sound, peppered with spry synth lines and contemplative strings. Unassuming but not timid, the new LP delightfully dances around the nostalgia that exists on the fringes of memories of a simpler life. Guiding us throughout, is an intentional voice attempting to understand the complexities of life and love in the digital age.
Straight White Teeth is the dream pop project of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Patrick McGuire. After McGuire’s Denver-based band Flashbulb Fires unexpectedly disbanded in 2014, he began composing tracks using his acoustic guitar and a small midi keyboard. The songs he wrote were released as the Medicine Sword EP in 2015. In 2018, McGuire found success with a self-produced single called “Lifetime” featuring vocals from his former piano student Paige Pfleger. Early in that year, the track was picked up by KCRW’s Jason Bentley and charted up to #6 on his show, Morning Becomes Eclectic.
A solo endeavor, the songs on Charming Pet GIFs were written and recorded by McGuire in the bedroom of his rural New Mexican home throughout the winter of 2018. Working alone as a writer and a composer, McGuire found that this sense of solitude infuses the record. He brought in friend Joey Howell to help with mixes on “Bespoke,” “I Sleep In Swimming Pools,” and other album tracks.
Under its gauzy facade, Charming Pet GIFs details McGuire’s perspective on how the widespread proliferation of affordable broadband internet has changed the way we, as humans, interact. “It's an album that explores humanity's fraught relationship with the internet,” explains McGuire. “It explores things like internet addiction, singularity, and the idea that the internet is a massive, messy reflection of humanity––war, sex, friendship, communication, loyalty, betrayal, etc.”
An honest and atmospheric record, Charming Pet GIFs is a timely exploration into the dark aftereffects of a life lived constantly on the internet. A reactionary piece of art, the resignation and lamentation in McGuire’s voice is palpable; yet the record is flecked with splashes of hopeful optimism. Seemingly futile concerns about things such as climate change and online privacy are mitigated by the idea that genuine human love is enough to get us through the uncertainty that lies ahead. And with that, it’s easy to find comfort in this record; knowing that in the end, we all just want to be loved. McGuire explains, “This is a dark, pensive album hiding underneath deceptively buoyant songs. I hope it's something people can find solace in.”