22 Apr, 2013

Bleached – “Ride Your Heart”

BleachedThoroughly enjoyable if a bit slight, Ride Your Heart is the debut LP from Bleached, new home of Mika Miko veterans Jennifer and Jessica Clavin. Like the Dum Dum and Vivian Girls before them, Bleached’s primary sound is a reconfiguration of sixties girl group melodies (particularly those of Queens, New York bad girls The Shangri-Las) with lo-fi punk grit. Lovelorn vocals undercut with a hint of nastiness and sweet melodies obscured by fuzz are the rule here, and if this sort of retro-revivalism hits your nostalgia centers in the right place, then it’s quite a pleasurable Ride. Really, the song titles say it all: “Looking For a Fight,” “Dreaming Without You,” “Waiting By the Telephone,” “Love Spells,” “A Guy Like You.” It’s pop music reduced to its basic elements, longing and rebellion, and rarely aims for much greater nuance than that. Still though, there are a number of pleasures to be found here.

“Dead in Your Head” is exemplary of the best moments on the record. Sing-songy, fuzz-draped melancholy for the verses and crystalline rushing guitars on the huge chorus. When the record achieves heights like this, it leaves behind the potentially gimmicky nature of the band’s intended sound and makes them sound like a genuine evolution of bands like The Shangri-Las, rather than merely utilizing the sound to add a hint of the unusual to relatively straightforward three-chord punk. The rest of the albums best moments follow a similar pattern, from the hyper-bratty “Waiting By the Telephone” and “Dead Boy” to the more restrained, resigned “When I Was Yours.” Perhaps the albums finest moment comes on the infectious “Love Spells,” with it’s angular verses and sweet, skyward looking chorus. Ride Your Heart isn’t most people’s idea of a marquee release, but from a young band, it’s as confident a statement of purpose as one could possibly hope for. It’s a solid, satisfying slab of sixties-inflected garage rock, and what it lacks in ambition, it makes up in simple pleasures.

Review by Ben Klibaner.

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