- Photo by Steve Truesdell
- Little Big Bangs performing at the 2013 RFT Music showcase.
In the two years since Little Big Bangs' self-titled debut, the punk-leaning quartet has only intensified its grasp on how to wrest life from two- and three-minute rock songs. On its second LP, Star Power, the band detonates snide, tuneful bombs that are pressure-loaded with errant melody and lyrical fearlessness amid topics both blasé and bold. Across these twelve tracks, the band works through proto glam-rock, sludgy Pavement riffs, perverted surf-rock jams and many songs that occupy the grungiest corners of pop-punk. Working with Brian Scheffer at Firebrand Recording has given the songs a certain sonic directness while retaining the right amount of grit; this batch of tracks has an expansiveness that's missing from earlier recordings.
As on previous efforts, the vocals are shared communally among instrumentalists Lucy Dougherty, Ryan Macias and Eric Boschen; the album was recorded with the fuss-free and propulsive drumming of Drew Gowran, though he has since left the group. For her part, Dougherty continues to grow into her power and the possibilities of her voice; "Kennel" finds her challenging authority and hierarchy amid a T. Rex groove, while the bruising "Rotten Blood" pushes her into a fury only intensified by the tape hiss that coats her vocals. Macias and Boschen can range from slacker-aping laconic to indignant; "Situation" does both nicely, using suburban ennui as a catalyst for existential escape and some of the LP's chunkiest riffs.
The whiplash from genre-hopping, even within songs, makes it hard to pigeonhole this band, but that's probably by design. It speaks to Little Big Bang's method of ripping it up and starting again that the rangy, squalling album closer "Aftermath" dissolves in the band's most gentle moment to date, a fadeout colored by tender drums, plaintive electric piano and piled-on vocals. This coda is as unexpected as it is affecting as the three singers coo and harmonize over a pretty good summation of the punk M.O.: "Fuck their world/we're all we've got." Like Sonic Youth's quieter excursions, the album's final moments serve as a foil to the noise the precedes it, a recasting of the same message with a distinctly different energy.
Stream tracks from the new album below:
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