By Nic Turiciano
The Rocky Mountain Collegian
Sitting in the sun, drinking a beer and relaxing with some catchy guitars and breezy melodies have gained real traction recently. Wavves, Surfer Blood and Neon Indian come to mind.
Now picture the same beach, the same beer and the same boom box, but instead of California, think of Canada. Itâ€™s overcast, youâ€™re fully clothed, the sand is nowhere near warm and for some reason youâ€™re mildly stressed out.
It doesnâ€™t sound like much fun, but thatâ€™s exactly what it is when Women capture this sentiment on â€œPublic Strainâ€.
The fuzzed out bass, hiss of white noise and abundance of reverb make this album a difficult first listen. The opening track, â€œCanâ€™t You See,â€ has enough tension in its ending to make you want to put down the album altogether.
Bear through it.
Patterns emerge, what once was noise begins to take form and, most importantly, Women start sounding really, really good. Women are at their best when they build off of calculated punk arrangements that are two parts ugly and one part pretty.
They achieve this through dual guitar lines that seem to alternately resist and embrace each other, vocals sung by three of the members at the same time (but not harmonized) and an ear for anxious chord progressions.
It all comes together on album highlights â€œHeat Distraction,â€ â€œLocust Valleyâ€ and â€œEyesore.â€ These climaxes create a willingness to give in and drop musical preconceptions.
Itâ€™s a delicate balance with an uneven equation, and sometimes it doesnâ€™t work.
With exception of the highlights, the album suffers from a case of self-destruction. As soon as the ear-catching, â€˜ugly-is-beautifulâ€™ sections of tracks arise, they are too quickly morphed into something that doesnâ€™t achieve the same reaction.
Is this a reaction to their decidedly more engaging debut self-titled album? Who knows? Iâ€™m positive, however, that this is far from a sophomore slump.
Music reviewer Nic Turiciano can be reached at email@example.com.