APOCALIPSTICK by Cherry Glazerr
Genre: Indie Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Told You I’d Be with the Guys,” “Moon Dust,” “Nuclear Bomb,” “Lucid Dreams,” “Sip O’ Poison,” “Nurse Ratched”
Whether or not Cherry Glazerr strategically planned for their second LP to be released on the day of the 45th presidential inauguration is unknown — the title, APOCALIPSTICK, could foreshadow a turbulent, dogmatic landscape and its ominous implications for women, or it could merely nod to oft-overlooked femmes in the grunge scene. Regardless of its meaning, it demarcates a sort of reckless sonic abandon dressed with a feminine edge. APOCALIPSTICK is an irreverent augmentation of 2014’s HAXEL PRINCESS, supplementing Cherry Glazerr’s signature wisecracking and bratty attitude with punky guitar hooks, tight, simple drumming, unpretentious synth, and the beginnings of what may be a promising future for the band when it comes to being noisy.
Despite its avoidance of discernible political commentary, APOCALIPSTICK nonetheless synthesizes two characteristics that threaten the ego and authority of any demagogue: humor and volume. The band pride themselves with tracks about wearing the same pair of underwear three days in a row and frying fajitas in the kitchen. Even the music video for “Nuclear Bomb” features frontwoman Clementine Creevy having a series of explicit sexual escapades with a guitar. For Cherry Glazerr, rebellion — or relief — begins with humor. The joy in songs like “Trash People” and “Humble Pro” comes first and foremost from a cooperation between truth and play. Clementine’s room probably does smell like an ashtray, and any sound person knows the satisfaction of eating a burrito in the middle of the night. Yet these details become comically human next to the musing that “Art is love and love is sloppy,” illuminating the idea that, because humor comes from real life, it is one of our purest consolations in the face of existential dread and impending doom.
What comes at a close second to Cherry Glazerr’s sense of humor is their driving beats and angsty riffing. APOCALIPSTICK never quite kicks the amp over in orgiastic rage, but it retains a noise pop sensibility that invites you to sing with the melody in the midst of a polite mosh. Nevertheless, the band plays it safe where the drums could be crashing, the guitar fuzzing, and the synth moaning. In this way, the album feels like a missed opportunity for Cherry Glazerr to unleash the harsh energy of foremothers like Hole and Babes In Toyland; instead, they opt for a modest garage rock closer in the vein of Metric and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The instrumentation is simply too clean for the grungy persona they are striving for, but it does leave room for accessibility.
Not all is lost, however — APOCALIPSTICK might very well be the warm-up, the coy baring of teeth before the cacophonous war cry with which they could be capable of following this record. We can suppose this from the numerous standout moments that are spread across the album, and even with respect to one-off single from 2014, “Had Ten Dollaz.” Opener “Told You I’d Be With The Guys” is nothing short of anthemic, with a guitar hook that’ll loiter in your head for days, turning into a sinewy, snake-charmer solo before a final, jackhammering climax. This is a mischievous introduction for a few of the rambunctious outbursts to follow.
At her sweetest, Clementine sounds moody and pastel, but it never lasts long before she brays out in pain or rebellion — the line is often blurred. Tracks like “Moon Dust” and “Only Kid On The Block” fool us at first glance with steady, almost genteel verses, only to stagger the listener with a loud and ornery chorus. A glaring disappointment seems to be that the drums and synth remain barebones behind Clementine’s gaping-mouthed eruptions, leaving a reflection of her charisma to be desired in her backing band. Even so, Cherry Glazerr clobbers like true punks in “Sip O’ Poison,” and the combination of fuzzy verses with a beach rock chorus on “Instagratification” is a refreshing stylistic choice to close the album into its slow and sludge-y coda, “Apocalipstick.”
Cherry Glazerr is on the precipice of a lion’s roar, and APOCALIPSTICK is a cub in writhing prepubescence. They certainly have an unapologetic demeanor, but this record falls just short of twisting the knife that impales the abdomen. Despite its mere flirtation with chutzpah, APOCALIPSTICK is an album that still retains a studio-polished danceability, and is raucous enough for those of us who want to jam on the sidelines instead of throwing punches in the pit. Facing armageddon takes nerve; at least they’re applying their war paint first.