Review Summary: This EP gets the cherries poppin'.
Cherri Bomb were an all-female hard rock band formed in 2008, when all of the members were still in middle school. In 2011, they signed to Hollywood Records and released their debut EP, Stark
. During the following year, they would go on to release their first full-length album, This Is the End of Control
, before kicking out their lead singer/lead guitarist Julia in early 2013. In 2015, they changed their name to Hey Violet and became a pop band, dropping nearly all traces of their rock roots. I recount these key points of Cherri Bomb/Hey Violet's history because they are essential to fully appreciating Stark
, which is where this young band's rocky road essentially began.
Although there seems to be no information on the internet about the current or past ages of the band members, we do know that they were in middle school in 2008, which means that Stark
was probably released while the band members were in high school. This is noteworthy because the instrumentation sounds impressively tight for such young musicians, and the lyrical themes are often quite mature. The first four tracks on this EP follow the same basic songwriting formula, with Julia singing the beginning verses with angst over the main riff, before belting out a catchy chorus over a soaring chord progression. A cover of the Foo Fighters hit The Pretender
is used to conclude Stark
, and while I'm always wary of cover songs making their way onto albums or EPs of otherwise original music, this cover is exceptionally well done, and fits effortlessly in with the sound of the other four tracks.
All of the tracks on Stark
were written not by the band, but by professional songwriters (including Anastasia Lovelis, who is the drummer for the post-punk band Uke til U Puke
, and the mother of band members Rena and Nia). The members of Cherri Bomb didn't have a hand in their own songwriting until This Is the End of Control
, which saw the band going in a more pop rock direction as opposed to the heavier sound on this EP. As mentioned in the first paragraph, the band would eventually turn into the pop band Hey Violet, as they began to have more dictation over the style of their own music. With this gradual but drastic change, Julia, who was in charge of pumping out the riffs and delivering her loud, heart-driven rock vocals, found herself no longer having a place in the band. She would later be replaced on vocals by Rena, who has a soothing, almost hypnotic vocal style.
I consider Julia to have been the key member of the band, and the driving force behind the liveliness of Stark
. Furthermore, I think this EP is the band's best work (across both names, and at the time of my writing this review), although Hey Violet's album From the Outside
is thoroughly enjoyable, and a huge step up in the songwriting department from This Is the End of Control
. I wish that we could have gotten more of the heavier sound presented here, but if they wanted to start writing their own songs and move away from rock music, I can't fault them. For what it's worth, this is an excellent EP to jam if you want something short and sweet, but chock-full of energy.