Women
Public Strain


3.0
good

Review

by teddycutler1 USER (11 Reviews)
August 20th, 2013 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Public Strain is a burial in a heavy sonic snowdrift, a chamber of blanket dissonance, an off-kilter, ugly, fascinating, visceral mess of a record.

Women’s work explores a demilitarized zone across which terrible ugliness and equally terrible beauty take pot shots at each other. Public Strain bludgeons with volleys of distortion, daring you to turn and flee, before rewarding your courage or stupor with tiny crumbs of reward. Many of its songs are less songs and more compositions of suites: Heat Distraction undergoes at least two rhythm changes before the vocal chimes in. Then abruptly it shifts gear again and again, until inescapable ugliness has somehow morphed into a heavy-footed, compelling monarch of a piece. The same is true of Narrow with the Hall, where a violent blast of distorted guitar opens out into a warm, expansive sound shot through with an occasional unlovely squeal.

The album’s narrative is lost amongst its indistinctiveness, as lyrics fall away like shouts through the blizzards its cover depicts. As a result it’s an isolating, alienating listen: the wordless Bells is the musical equivalent of submerging oneself underwater, blocked off from the world by walls of dense liquid sound. Together with the sinister China Steps it forms an intimidatingly brutal core to the album- on the latter track in particular any conventional pretence of beauty is abandoned altogether. Chinks of light begin to appear again on Untogether, which follows China Steps as its slightly more open-faced younger brother.

Public Strain performs the public service common to all difficult albums: it causes us to reevaluate why we listen to music. Drag Open is certainly not enjoyable in any traditional sense what with its mad time changes and chaotic squalls of grey noise. What it is is a challenge, both to the listener and to a world fed on the thrice digested corn of easy listening bilge. Of course it’s not all as heavy as that: when they wish, as on standout Locust Valley, Women can write a melody that sticks in the brain, albeit a brain lodged in the purgatory of off-key, off-time guitars. Venice Lockjaw finds them in relaxed mood: in complete contrast, however, to the first half of the album it begins warmly before striking those warning, dissonant notes as it moves towards its conclusion. It’s closer Eyesore though that summarises the album perfectly, starting as a wintry, unintelligible chore and ending as a minor celebration to…..what exactly? As with all Women’s music, it’s either thrillingly ambiguous or unambiguously dreary depending on your levels of patience, but it’s also a symbolic victory for beauty in its album-long struggle with the beast.



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user ratings (236)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Sam Feldman's Rating (4.5)
...

zach (5)
I know I'm late but...

Adam Downer STAFF (5)
...

Eno (4.5)
Women go against the grain of 2010, leaving us with a record that is devoid of any warmth or soul. A...

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Women

Comments:Add a Comment 
Cygnatti
August 20th 2013


21353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fuck you.

demigod!
August 20th 2013


44727 Comments


cygnazi strikes again

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Cygnatti
August 20th 2013


21353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

looking good, demi. ;)

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 20th 2013


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the standards this review judges the album against are really narrow sighted. basically every criticism is "not pretty! 3/5" with dense vocabulary.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

wabbit
August 20th 2013


7012 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's not even that not pretty Adam!

McMegaMountain
August 20th 2013


204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty sure Public Strain is exactly what it should be - Excellent.

Digging: Thurston Moore - The Best Day

EaglesBecomeVultures
August 20th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

a 3 lol

Digging: Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love

PuddlesPuddles
August 20th 2013


4786 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Yeah but "not pretty" is different than "a chore to listen to," which is not something most people look for in entertainment. So, the review does back up its score

EaglesBecomeVultures
August 20th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this review is dumb, on the real

teddycutler1
August 20th 2013


8 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hey, I wasn't saying that the bits I perceive as ugly are bad- it's the contrast that makes the record. There are some parts I love and some I really struggle with but still appreciate at the same time, so I give it a 3.

slep
August 20th 2013


1604 Comments


I admit you certainly write very well overall, but I think the amount of metaphors you used here is overkill. That being said, I understand your criticisms to a degree.

I haven't listened to this in well over a year, but I really do like it.

EaglesBecomeVultures
August 20th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

writing is really bloated actually but i didn't neg

sniper
August 20th 2013


19077 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you guys are clearly mad about the rating, this review is really good.

i wholeheartedly disagree that drag open isn't enjoyable though, that off-kilter lurch and spiky feedback is almost orgasmic by itself, and the way they juxtapose that sound with the second half is one of the more moving sections of the entire album. the fact that the riffs themselves are also awesome makes it an easy pick for a standout imo.

sniper
August 20th 2013


19077 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well maybe not good, but well written at least ;]

Funeralopolis
August 20th 2013


11612 Comments


need to listen to this more

Digging: Black Milk - If There's a Hell Below



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