REVIEW: Murder For Girls – “All The Pretty Stars”

Blender analogies are lazy, so let’s find a way around them. While Murder For Girls always has traced its trajectory back to the Riot Grrl bands of the early ’90s, its new record – All The Pretty Stars, which the band will mark with a release show Saturday night – is a little bit more nuanced than that, borrowing from Babes In Toyland and early Hole (and, yes, Grrls like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Calamity Jane) as much as it does alt-rock icon Kim Deal and fellow Pittsburgh punks T-Tops. During the course of the record’s nine tracks, the listener is treated to full-throttled but melodic punk – the choruses of “Pleather” and closer “Rocker Chick Vibe” will dig their hooks deep into your cerebellum – but also songs like “Lucy,” whose verses exude a kind of pop-rock naivete. The record is far from three power chords and a cloud of dust.

What’s really interesting for those paying attention, though, is the scorched-Earth approach to recording and presenting guitar on the new record. Songs like “Punky Brewster” (off 2016’s All The Wishes) had plenty of rage, but there’s a roughness and added layer of distortion-fuzz here that makes tracks like opener “Christina Ricci” particularly aggressive and freaktastic. (The pounding cymbals don’t hurt, either.) On “Mitsuko,” which falls later, the distortion can sound looser and more free-form, but, elsewhere, the hyper-pressurized tone lends an implicit sense of pending-explosiveness to the excellent “White Russian” (love the group-shouted “HEY!” on the bridges) or the (relatively) upbeat passages of “Anything And Everything.”

It’s a tough battle to determine the best track on the outing, especially among heavy-hitters like “White Russian” or “Christina Ricci.” But “Jennifer Lynch” surely will garner some votes. Though it starts with an angular bit of bass fluidity, the part that will stay in your mind is the pounding chorus, where Tammy, Stephanie and Michele shout in unison over driving drums and a good blast or two of electric guitar riffage. It’s an electrifying moment – and far from the only one on a disc that, without question, will bring a smile to the faces of some alt-rock and punk fans in The Burgh. – Punksburgh, Nov. 7, 2017

All The Pretty Stars will be released Saturday, November 11th at the Aftershock Theater. The show is only $5 and includes a copy of the CD–don’t miss it! You can find Murder For Girls’ music on their Bandcamp page and Spotify.

About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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