It seems like it's been way too long since the last Ted Leo LP came out, so I was pretty excited when I heard that he was finally working on something new. Sure, it wasn't a new Pharmacists record, but Teddy hasn't let me down yet. What we ended up with is The Both, a collaborative project with Aimee Mann. While it's a good listen and quite enjoyable in places, it never soars as high as Ted's usual work with the Pharmacists.
In general, I'd say the biggest thing holding this record back is its lack of energy. The songs tend to be pretty mid tempo and there's really nothing in the way of raised voices, shouting or any real outpouring of enthusiasm. From what I've heard of Amiee Mann, this is downright punk rock from her usual records, but for Ted Leo it feels like he's being dragged down a dark path into mom-friendly NPR rock.
That probably sounds worse than it actually is. When they pick up the pace a bit, like on the songs "Milwaukee" and "Bedtime Stories," the record is actually very compelling with great back and forth vocals and some quality harmonies. But those are bright shining spots on record that otherwise just kind of fades into the background whenever I put it on. It's not bad, it's good. But what it isn't is great and that's what I usually sign up for when I buy a Ted Leo record. I hope he's on the phone with the Pharmacists planning their next record.
The Both - "Milwaukee":