A punk band goes classic in new album

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Elizabeth Castillo, Editor in Chief

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Six studio albums into their career, Screaming Females turn down the lo-fi and turn up refinement with their latest record, “Rose Mountain.” The album is much less punk — which may surprise some fans — but is extremely well-executed. The album sounds more like a modern take on classic rock but is done so expertly, that it doesn’t come across as cheesy or unnecessarily theatrical.

Case in point is the band’s highly successful closing track, “Criminal Image.” The song has a nicely paced intro, and when frontwoman Marissa Paternoster begins to sing the track’s well-crafted lyrics, fans can hear her many different vocal styles throughout.

Halfway through the song, listeners get an unexpected piano joining the already strong instrumentation. The short piano cameo adds a bluesy feel to the song but is then replaced by heavy guitars assuring listeners the song hasn’t lost its bite. At a hefty five minutes and 19 seconds the track, provides listeners with an epic closer that doesn’t disappoint. Paternoster also gets to shred through the end of the song, and the outro leaves listeners craving for more successful heavy rock.

While this is a strong rock album, not every track is filled with a heavy head-banger sound. The most surprising song on the album is definitely “Wishing Well” which is ridiculously poppy. The thing about Paternoster is that her powerhouse vocals could probably stand up well in today’s range of pop divas and hot hits, but thankfully, she uses her vocals for louder purposes. On “Wishing Well,” though, the band combines catchy pop melodies with playful lyrics about being broke because of tossing too many coins into the mythical wishing well. This track almost sounds like surf pop and is a major change of pace for the historically punk band. While different, the song is still executed nicely and informs fans of the scope of the band’s talent.

“Hopeless” is another song that is a bit more gentle and Paternoster sings about not being “hopeless, or helpless” although a lost love has her feeling that way. The track is another sweet song on the album that softens up the other heavier tracks, like “Triumph.”

The album’s title track has a nice and controlled intro, which provides a nice build-up to the song. “Rose Mountain” can at times seem too controlled but thankfully the song takes a nice and unexpected turn towards the end. A lo-fi piano ends the song on an odd and eerie note. The piano fades away into creepy dissonance but provides the song with a unique twist. The piano adds nicely to the overall instrumentation and ensures that “Rose Mountain” isn’t as sweet as some of the other tracks on the album.

Overall, this record is very controlled, refined and polished, which is surprising coming from this band. Although this album drifts from the punk sound Screaming Females is known for, their talent still shines through and provides fans with a pleasant and notable album.

4 stars

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