Review Summary: *hysterically screaming*
How far can one stretch the definition of post-punk, until it is no longer post-punk" And for that matter, how far can one stretch the definition of other genres, so that it comes as close as possible to another genre, say post-punk" Whatever the answer, the Jersey brutes of Screaming Females seem to be trying to jump over that exact fence. While most other bands of the sort are attempting to make music as close to the post-punk’s edge and be compared to other genres, Screaming Females seem to have accomplished the exact opposite. All At Once
is explosive, hard-hitting, vocally magnetic, melodically intriguing and tonally raunchy. But it also has that post-punk-like frankness, bass lines and snarkiness that is lost in recent Joy Divisionisms of the band’s contemporaries, but that is a cry for another time. So in the end, Screaming Females managed to throw punk, indie rock, pop-punk, a little bit of noise and some of that good old-school hardcore (the mellow 70s one), or in other words they took all at once, and created an album so close to being post-punk that it reaches the uncanny valley.
So, All At Once
. One thing the band always excelled at was vocal grandiosity and catchiness of the tunes. And it makes a big comeback here, and in high fashion. Marissa Paternoster’s voice just erupts in frenzy, although moments of calm are also present, while the songs themselves are almost each instantly memorable. So one thing you do not have to worry about is being bored for the duration of these fifteen tracks. That was already quite apparent from the singles “Glass House” and much more straightforward “Black Moon”, both serving as introductory cuts on here.
Now, what often brings the songs down is their brevity. “Dirt” just swings by without having a chance of making any impact and “Drop by Drop” just seems like a sudden rockabilly detour. Most cuts on here barely reach three minutes, and while most songs don’t suffer the consequences, some do, indeed. Another album’s flaw might be the song-writing, which I previously described as ‘instantly memorable’, which it surely is, but might not appeal to everyone with its simplicity and down-to-earth playfulness.
But if those are the only gripes, then All At Once
is an all throughout worthwhile release. And it most definitely is. Screaming Females learnt from their past mistakes and stopped trying to wow the listener with their ambitions, but instead just go out there and have the fun their style of music deserves. And when the artist is having fun, so does the listener.