The Upshot: Following a seven-year layoff, the Colorado band gets the balance right. Special guests include Peter Buck, Vanessa Briscoe-Hay and Eric Allen.
BY MARK JENKINS
On Dressy Bessy’s 1999 debut, Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons,
singer-guitarist-composer Tammy Ealom revealed a genius for power-pop
tunes that the band wasn’t quite agile enough to deliver. The
sprightliest of the songs — especially “If You Should Try to Kiss
Her” — endured anyway, but as the Colorado quartet got tighter, its
material sagged a little. After four more albums and a seven-year
layoff, the band gets the balance right with Kingsized. It sounds
like Dressy’s best.
The album opens with a Raspberries-style drum fanfare and a
unexpectedly political kick: “Lady Liberty” is a lament, as bouncy as
it is breakneck, for people who are “trying hard to get along.”
Exactly what Ealom deplores about the state of the union is hard to
discern, since her multi-tracked vocals stuff words into the verses
and her soprano sometimes melds with the churning jangle produced by
her, fellow guitarist John Hill and guest player Peter Buck. Yet the
anti-anthem’s exuberance is irresistible.
While Dressy Bessy’s original style is intact, it now has more drive,
swagger and range. The group lost its longtime bass player before
recording Kingsized, and the album was recorded with such stand-ins
as Eric Allen (of Hill’s other group, the Apples In Stereo). The beat
turns bluesy for “These Modern Guns,” and toggles to punk-funk for
“Get Along (Diamond Ring),” whose methodical pulse may be a tribute to
the former band of its harmony vocalist, Pylon’s Vanessa Briscoe-Hay.
The album’s many visitors don’t distract Ealom and her comrades from
their vision, as they demonstrate with such jaunty numbers as “Pop
Phenom” and “Dirty Birdies.” They frolic the way Pink Hearts, Yellow
Moons meant to.
DOWNLOAD: “Lady Liberty,” “Pop Phenom”