Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Women - Women (***1/2)

Some band's emerge fully formed. However, it's rather difficult to make a judgment on Women one way or the other since they so confidently pull from such a deep well of influences. On the one hand they are an indie rock band in the classic sense: sloppy, amateurish, blissfully unaware of their greatest strengths. On the other, they are a noise band: dense, unrelenting and opposed to tradition. But somehow this self-titled debut is at once the most purposeful indie rock record and the most methodical noise record of the year. It's this refusal to stand still that keeps Women from stagnating, and in just 30 short minutes, this Canadian four piece will have - at least at some point - tapped into one of your particular pleasure centers.

This genre hopping tendency is mapped out pretty clearly over Women's first three tracks. 60 second opener "Camera" is an acoustic and Casio ditty; second track "Lawncare" is anything but, the guitars more closely approximating a busted mower trampling some half watered sod; and in the third hole, "Woodbine", a thickly layered drone that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the first half of Cryptograms. Most every proceeding song has some resemblance to one of these three tracks, and as Women romp raucously through their ideas, they strike upon numerous moments of near greatness. Standout track "Black Rice" is quite easily the most fully formed and instantly likable track on Women, with it's jangly strum and upfront, deadpan vocals, but it's hardly the most rewarding. "Group Hall Transport" brings their late 60s psych-pop influence to the fore once again, and at barely a minute in length, you'd still be hard pressed to forget it's sunny melody.

It's not all good vibes and clean guitars though, as the Women's final quarter takes it's cues from the aforementioned "Lawncare" to bring the noise even harder. "Upstairs" begins as a light tambourine-backed strum-along but soon devolves into tuneless thwacking, while the vicious "January 8th" flirts most dangerously with a Liars-esque thud. Closing track "Flashlights" is a formless mess and the only song here that really seems expendable, but Women aren't about to give an inch on this striking debut album, so in the end it feels almost inevitable that the band would leave the listener with a feeling of uncertainty. Women is a record that rewards close listens as it slowly peels back it's lo-fi layers to reveal four guys who may not know where they are going, but they most assuredly know how to get there.

Highlights: "Lawncare", "Black Rice", "Ground Hall Transport"

RIYL: Liars, Times New Viking, Deerhunter, No Age

"Black Rice"

"January 8th"

"Group Hall Transport"

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