This debut from Canada's Women is certainly a rough diamond, but a diamond none the less. Recorded in Chad Vangallen's basement using ghetto blasters and old tape decks over four months Women continue the run of infectious lo-fi music that dominated last year but lace the whole thing with the slightest hint of melody. I would describe this band as the twisted wreckage that might occur after a multi-car pile up involving Animal Collective, The Beach Boys, Liars and Times New Viking. They have the unpredictable flair of Animal Collective, the drifting harmonies of The Beach Boys but can easily turn on you like a Liars sucker-punch. The Times New Viking reference is glaringly obvious as the whole thing bristles with tape hiss and guitar wash.
But where that band take the lo-fi sound to almost impenetrable lengths Women dangle things like song structure and melody tantalizingly close to the listener that it's hard to give up on them. The opening track Cameras is just glorious with it's warm jangle easing us in but after a mere one minute the whole thing descends into Lawncare, a pulsating, hollow and thoroughly unfriendly song that puts the listener on alert from the outset. But they'll rein you back in if you ever started to wander during the hard times with 50's tinged pop of Black Rice or the breakneck jangle of Shaking Hand, a song which awkwardly shifts between tempos with some incredibly nifty guitar work. The vocals are layered and muffled and often act as yet another instrument rather than forming the backbone of the sound. The album can shift from buried yet catchy pop hooks to pastoral instrumental sound experiments like Woodbine. It can also hit you with January 8th, the most Liars influenced track here. It's a relentless barrage of off-key guitars and crashing drums. It plays in the vicinity of recognition but ultimately carves it's own route through highly avant-guard noise. And it also runs into the final track Flashlights which finishes the record off with an all out assault using every instrument going. It's pure noise and acts as a warning to anyone who was about to form an opinion about what they just heard. This is a tough record yet full of rewarding moments. It crams in so many elements and manages to cram them all in to a very unique sound.
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