The Upshot: Distaff garage pop band sticks to the basics, achingly melodic songs roughed up mildly by rock aggression.
By JENNIFER KELLY
The She’s are, as the album title suggests, four women who make music together, now on their second full-length of fizzy, fuzzy, tightly harmonized garage pop. Their latest album is a bit harder edged than the 2011’s debut Then It Starts to Feel Like Summer but not radically so. There is a buzzy sweetness at their rambunctious core, a jangling pop sunshine behind brash batteries of drums. Their sound might remind you of 1990s female empowered outfits like the Muffs or even, at a stretch, the Breeders, with sudden stops and pull-ups, off-kilter bass lines and melodies that are both blithe and brash.
Edgy “Ashes” is full of attitude, its hard rhythms and strident guitars framing sly, knowing verses about the sweet and sour of romance. “You seek to tease me push my faults in my face/I am completely lost in your sunken eyes,” Hannah Valente talk sings, in a sexy dead-pan that might remind you of Karen O, at once vulnerable and taking absolutely no shit. “Sorry” wafts sugar-coated girl group choruses over spiky, punchy rhythms, cutting the tuneful-ness with noise towards the end, in a saw-toothed bassline, plinking piano dissonance and staticky found-sound recordings. “Lies Again,” showcases bass player Sami Perez and drummer Sinclair Riley’s way of knocking pretty pop songs sideways with staccato, locked in rhythmic foundations. Guitars, too, (that’s Valente and Eva Treadway) behave until they don’t, breaking out in splintering rays of dissonance in the intervals.
There are a few experimental breaks, but mostly All Female Rock and Roll Quartet sticks to the basics, achingly melodic songs roughed up mildly by rock aggression. Though the band name-checks Merrill Garbus of TuneYards as a mentor, there’s little of her electric unpredictability. This is a solid record, well played and nicely representing the distaff point of view, but nothing earth-shaking.
DOWNLOAD: “Ashes” “Lies Again”