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coverpic flag Canada - Full Moon 174 - 11/21/10

Public Strain

Canadian all-men four-piece Women put out their self-titled debut for Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar in 2008. Women play noisy, jumpy art-rock, or twisted and bent distorted pop dragged from the daylight into darkness. The Calgary four - Patrick Flegel (vocals/guitar), Matthew Flegel (bass/vocals), Micheal Wallace (drums), and Christopher Reimer (guitars/cello/vocals) - returned earlier this fall with their second album, Public Strain. Once again to hailing critics (Allmusic, BBC, Drowned In Sound, NME, Pitchfork, SPIN magazine, to name a few).

Public Strain sort of continues where Women ended, with twisted, dazed and confused rock, holding pop elements with strings back to the 1960s - The Beach Boys, The Zombies, The Byrds, and more. All this mashed together with more arty, atonal-vs-melodic pop stuff, think, say... Wire, Pavement, Beatnik Filmstars, or even a more rocking Animal Collective. Other contemporaries are Deerhoof, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Yes, Women are even slightly psychedelic now and then, as well as roaming in Krautrock-territory when they feel for it. They noise, they drone, but most of the time they return to a melodic path. "Heat Distraction" is a fascinating and sort of typical Women song. Cunning guitar playing, and a song build-up and arrangement being something on the side. Yet, it sounds rather familiar, being snake-charmingly catchy. "Narrow With the Hall" is more of the same, while the instrumental "Bells" is a sacral piece of work. The semi-staccato "China Steps" is one of the key-tracks of the album, along with the closing "Eyesore", while "Locust Valley" is one of the lighter and poppier moments, along with the calm and quiet "Venice Lockjaw".

Public Strain is in fact very good. Women almost makes me consider bigamy...

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