When a group describes themselves as a â€œbombastic and chaoticâ€ spin on girl group sounds, youâ€™re probably in for an adrenaline-charged good time. Imagine if Kim Wilde had fronted a version of the Ramones that had been inspired by The Jesus and Mary Chainâ€™s â€œfâ€™d up distorted sound.â€ Ashley Morey sings with a tart sweetness thatâ€™s sublimely at odds with her overdriven bass, husband Justinâ€™s buzzing guitars and their pummeling drum machine. Her voice floats in a pop bubble above the sonic fray, with Beach Boys-styled harmonies and chimes seeming almost dissonant against the distorted backings and shouted asides.
Whatâ€™s really appealing, besides melodic hooks that burrow deep into your ear, is the combination of aggression and vulnerability that drives many of the songs. Morey creates an emotional quiet/loud dynamic as she mates the imperious power of Mary Weiss to the vulnerability of Feargal Sharkey, producing the sense of someone whoâ€™s confident but not wholly sure. Sheâ€™s bloodied by romantic wreckage, but damn well isnâ€™t going to bleed out, and even the relatively tender â€œSo Far So Closeâ€ is colored by thrumming bass and a distorted edge on the vocals.
The obsessive desire of â€œLittle Rag Dollâ€ is endearing and maybe a bit scary, depending on whether itâ€™s a private thought written into a diary or a love letter shoved into someoneâ€™s locker. There are moments of less harrowing desire, such as the hopeful realization of â€œCome On Baby,â€ but much of the albumâ€™s romance is seen in postmortem hangover as Morey wrestles with lingering attachments and emerging feelings of righteous anger. A cover of Fugaziâ€™s â€œMerchandiseâ€ retains its urgency amid the duoâ€™s electric hum, but itâ€™s the girlgroup hooks and baion beats that really give this record its power. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]