Review Summary: Daughtercore pioneers transform their sound, lineup follows suit.
2005's Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking
was a boneriffic, half-decade retreat to what alt-rock should sound like. It was a hamburger with maple syrup on it - pretty and ugly at the same time, and damned if that's not so good going down.
If you had listened to that album, then Release Me
might shock you a bit. It's different... super-different. No June Gloom here -- this is a fluttery, uppity, head-bobbing britpop record. It certainly caught me by surprise (see my soundoff, June 17, 2010).
Prior to the recording of this album, bassist Charlotte Froom had left the band (eventually replaced by two new girls, who as far as this writer knows, are not "daughters" in the traditional sense), but the change in direction is more likely attributable to the band's collaboration work with producers Mark Ronson and (Phantom Planet frontman and total bro) Alex Greenwald, or a maturation (or perspective-shift) from the legend herself, Z-Berg.
Now, I know what you're thinking: Mark Ronson f-ucking SUCKS. . . and, yeah, I don’t think this album will change your opinion of him, but it is definitely the bright spot on his production discography. The upbeat, poppity-snap of opener “Wishing He Was Dead,” or the album’s infectious title track, is definitely attributable to Ronson. The organs on “Fair Game” and “Square One” lend a distinct 60s feel. It was weird at first, but I like it.
Z-Berg’s songwriting has also improved, and I’m not even talking about the album’s mood or feel. I mean, this is still girly as tit, and I really liked the debut, but where the banal lyrics on that album (Rachel Khong’s memorable review described them as “straight from soporific bio class margin-notes”) took a backseat to the muted spirituality of the girls’ instruments coming-of-age, Z’s able to keep pace with witty, upbeat tracks, winking rapidfire about cutesy stuff I can’t begin to understand (see, e.g., “Narcissus in a Red Dress”: I can see the hunger of compulsion in your face/High school skinny fades away/And you're just left with Polaroids capturing your fifteen minutes/Ain't it great"
). I assume it’s pretty brilliant.
Anyway, I think you should check this out. The band's on an indefinite hiatus as of last spring. Also the Tennessee (drums) played in the Clash at Demonhead.