Public Strain Public Strain


Women WomenPublic Strain

8.1 / 10


The Flegel brothers are back. After spending two years touring all over the world (their self-titled debut album “Women” got them 180 performances), Patrick (vocals) and Matthew (bass) have once again deconstructed the old Wilson sound (it has been said that they sound like the Beach Boys, but even more tripped-out on acid) to put out a cold, blurry album called “Public Strain”, pure mutilated noise-pop, absorbed in the background noise and always willing to undertake the feared trip to the end of the night. Because the blizzard of the very suggestive and appropriate cover of this album is real: we are faced with an album that will give us nothing unless we also contribute something ourselves. Unless we use our hand to shade our eyes and try to make our way through the white that surrounds us, which might be snow, or might be the padded walls of a cell in an insane asylum.

Because “Public Strain” is a reflection on paranoia and insanity. Or at least that’s what the majority of its songs are about, oscillating between the partially luminous everyday epic (the excellent “Eyesore”, which comes pretty close, although it isn’t as good as “Black Rice”, the band’s classic so far, on the debut album) and the gloomily confused darkness that surrounds the decisions that we make too late ( “Untogether”). But there is also a place for an unfocused, sinister dream ( “Penal Colony” or the disturbing, instrumental “Bells”) and for progressive melancholy ( “Heat Distraction”), and even for garage lament: “Locust Valley” is the masculine flip side of almost any song by the always-recommendable Vivian Girls, although at times ( “China Steps”) they sound like Wavves and even No Age ( “Narrow with the Hall”).

Recorded by Chad VanGaalen (with whom the band has toured often and who is also responsible for their first album), “Public Strain” is the closest thing to a step ahead (and onto firm ground) that the guys in the group Women (Canadians, by the way, and as one might expect of them as such, a 60’s noise pop oddity) could have taken, if they had proposed something like that to themselves. And songs like the almost-sacramental (and painfully lovely) “Venice Lockjaw” show it. After all, roses also have thorns, and good boys also have attacks of insanity (see “Drag Open” as the definitive change of direction in this sense: noise, noise, noise). Yes, the Flegels are back.

Laura Fernández

Women - Locust Valley Women - Heat Distraction

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