Review Summary: "Women" might be somewhat standard noise-rock fare, but the band throw in more than enough variation to keep the listener intrigued.
Sometimes you can find the best albums in some of the strangest places. I consider my musical taste to be somewhat off the beaten path, so sometimes finding these various places can be a challenge. Various artist-recommending sources only serve to scare me out of what I’m listening to now (“ghost punk” is a genre?), and my friends don’t seem to quite understand my tastes either (“No, seriously, you’ll love
this new Lady GaGa single.”), so it just so happens that most of the albums I find are via random scrounging around on the mind-bogglingly large internet music scene. The self-titled debut album from lo-fi indie band Women was the result of one of these spontaneous musical explorations.
The album starts off with “Cameras,” somewhat standard yet undeniably enjoyable noise rock fare. However, just as the song reaches the 1 minute mark, it quickly and stealthily molds into “Lawncare,” which sounds a little like the previous song, given a dark and eerie twist. The jangling percussion, noisy guitars, and restrained vocals should be familiar stuff for any veterans of the noise rock scene, but Women put their own twist on the formula, letting catchy riffs and hooks take control, rather than the noisy and dissonant feedback attributed to lo-fi and noise rock.
The album’s most prominent fault is the lack of actual material: four of the ten songs are in the 1-minute range. What really hurts is that one of these bite-sized songs is the best song on the album: “Group Transport Hall,” includes an unbelievably catchy chorus (“Soon we will be laughing, out there on the landing”). The song is notably simple, at first only including guitar and vocals, but it builds into a fun summer anthem. It’s too bad that the catchy chorus makes only two rotations before ending.
The album as a whole is catchy and energetic, but it’s when the band slows down that they create some of their most intriguing music. “Woodbine” is ambient in its approach, only consisting of a sustained note, some sound effects and minimalist percussion, but it creates a calming atmosphere, which is a welcoming change from the fast and rowdy punk ditties. It stands as one of the best tracks on the album, and shows how multi-faceted Women really are. However, the album suffers from not enough songs in this vein. With “Woodbine,” Women show their mastery of a completely different genre and style, and then let it go.
The fittingly jittery “Shaking Hand,” which, at a little under five minutes, is the longest song on the album, also works well with its eerie guitar hooks. Despite having an unconventional structure, the song is one of the most accessible on the album: the band turns the “noise” knob down significantly, a move indie rock fans will warm to, and one that, like “Woodbine,” shows there is much more to Women than the hiss of tape and the distortion and feedback of guitars.
Towards the end, the album starts to drag a little, especially with the irritating “January 8th,” which repeats a dissonant guitar chord while gradually speeding up. As a noisy novelty, it works, but as a song, it will turn away potential listeners. The album ends on “Flashlights,” which is a little too noisy and spontaneous to be fitting as a closer, but it perfectly sums up Women: it is only logical that they are the result of random “jams” like these, and are a work in progress, even when recording an album. Women
cannot be called a great album, but it’s an intriguing listen, and definitely a reward rather than a punishment of musical curiosity.