From nerve-tingling proclamations of love to cathartic leaps of faith, Gold Teeth + Glass Eyes feels like a classic John Cusack movie, smarter than everyone in the room and on the bleeding edge of too cool. This, the debut EP from J GRGRY – project of born-and-raised Seattleite Joe Gregory, is the epitome of emotional accessibility. And hardly feels like a debut.

And in a way it’s not. After being spat out of the major label system, Gregory has pulled himself together and gathered a quorum of top-notch musicians – Ryan Leyva on bass, Robert Cheek on guitar, Steven Barci on drums – into a flourishing master class. Add Gregory’s steamy, self-aware vocals and suddenly you’re brooding and you don’t know why. Think Depeche Mode or Peter Gabriel with a modern edge. GTGE matches a history lesson on dark new wave with modern technology, analog meets outer space.

The album opens with “eFlower,” chirping birds and a stellar beat that sound like a love song but are the result of Gregory addressing the safety net of alcoholism. This dichotomy plays throughout the album, beauty and the beast going head to head. “Cave Birds,” a track that’s already in rotation on both alternative and indie radio, is like a smokey basement club with a silver lining of sparkle. You can’t help but dance, though you feel like shit. There’s an optimistic twinkle that dances over this breakup of a track. Something is about to change, as inescapable as the track’s electronic beat.

“Rare Poisons” drapes the dance floor in regret and remembrance, while “Bees” takes a turn down a more acoustic route. Its an alt-rock ballad that transitions from the big electronics of the front half of the album to the vulnerability of the back. While it might sound out of place on its own, its placement and pacing are well thought out. For its here that we’re introduced to Gregory’s resurrection. There is substance to his style, and every moment feels incredibly personal yet accessible enough to empathize with.

GTGE closes with the back-to-back magic of “Ships” and “Floodlands,” both of which recall their electro-pop forebears with a kind of clarity and understanding that few can manage without mangling. J GRGRY’s song craft is nothing if not knowledgeable. These songs are beautiful and mysterious, while feeling intimately familiar. The nine-track album clocks in at just under 30 minutes, a half hour of mood and melancholy that is somehow still uplifting.

Keep an eye out for Spring tour dates, and pick up your copy of Gold Teeth + Glass Eyes now.

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Cave Birds
Rare Poisons
Porcelain Doll
Erase The Shore

Review by Stephanie Dore