Review Summary: Women's final effort
Women's final effort before their demise due to the death of their guitarist, "Public Strain", is an eerily heavy album even without knowing this. Beginning with it's wintry droning introduction, you get the sense that you're on a beach under palm trees, but then a huge blizzard begins to pummel down on the whole beach.
Second track: 'Heat Distraction' is an early highlight with its disjointed time signatures that somehow work. The atmosphere is bleak. And the vocals buzz away in the reverb. It's a one of a kind sound leaves you asking yourself how it works.
There is just a lot to be said about the atmosphere of the album. 'Heat Distraction' being an early highlight. 'Narrow With The Hall' is poppy and keeps a sense of normalcy going. The squeak of a kick drum pounding on 'China Steps' paints a darker picture with icy guitars coming in and etching away. Piling dissonance into the album. It's dark, and creates a constant sense of suspense. 'Drag Open' comes later, and is as dissonant as the album gets.
It's a strange but engaging album with it's lo-fi, kind of muffled production. 'Locust Valley' is a huge highlight. With guitar lines weaving around, like snow whirling around. The vocals buzz again. It's cold and despondent, but still insanely catchy. 'Public Strain' is truly an album that sounds like it's album artwork.
'Venice Lockjaw' is like waking up on Christmas morning before the album's profoundly depressing but cathartic ending. 'Eyesore' comes with the chiming guitars, and the stomp of a simple drum beat, that pounds you into submission. This song has a somewhat upbeat beginning half, before giving way to an emotionally crushing second half. 'Just below the swaying palms' ... 'You're not lying next to me...'. It's cold and despondent, like the sound of giving up, but there's a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. And that's how Public Strain leaves you.