Listening to Women’s Women reminds me of—other than the female form—Person Pitch by Panda Bear and Cryptograms by Deerhunter. These albums, like Women, can be difficult for the standard pop fan. But I’m not your standard pop fan (how can someone who enjoys the noise-hype that is HEALTH be your standard pop fan?) as my tastes stray beyond the pop borders quite frequently.
Before writing off Women as a knockoff or too much of a derivative, it’s worth checking out. There’s plenty of craft in the songs that’s lacking in Person Pitch and Cryptograms. Maybe lacking isn’t the proper term, as it hints a negative connotation—perhaps direction. Yes, Women draw influence from those bizarre borderline pop groups, tweaking a little here and a little there and then taking the song in a different direction.
“Lawncare” is an ultimate high point; it’s not surprising, due to the song being somewhat more cohesive than, say, the minimal “Woodbine” or even the wacky instrumental “Sag Harbor Bridge”, which isn’t necessarily a high point, but is still good in its own sense. “Black Rice” finds Women almost mimicking The Beach Boys, full with hand claps and similarly mixed vocals—it’s here the band (of course) draws most comparison to Panda Bear.
One element that allows Women to stand out is complex, clear lead guitar parts. Found in songs like the aforementioned instrumental “Sag Harbor Bridge” and the catchy “Shaking Hand”, these parts are best relayed through oversized headphones that encompass the ear. Listening to the songs like this is mandatory at least once in the first week or two that the songs are in your possession, as it is these guitar parts that set Women apart from your standard Panda Bear or Deerhunter.
Featuring members of Azeda Booth (of whom I am unfamiliar) and produced by Chad VanGaalen, Women comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s really and uniquely good. While it likely won’t draw as much hype as the recent albums of its influencers, it’s definitely worth repeat listens. One listen to the experimental aspects of “Upstairs” and closing track “Flashlights” will make that a true statement.
This review was originally posted July 21, 2008 on the old version of FensePost.
Flemish Eye [CD, 2008]
4. Black Rice
5. Sag Harbor Bridge
6. Group Transport Hall
7. Shaking Hand
9. January 8th