Trios are typically concise. Their sound isn’t muddied by multiple guitarists dueling over sonic superiority. Hard Girls are a prime example, subtle and perfected, like a fine wine produced from select, organic grapes, in a cultivated region, with a long maturation period. But they’re inexpensive, rich with melody, and a sommelier’s secret drink—the people’s wine. They’re the type of band that gets me out of the house, in my car, and at a show on a weeknight. The type of band that is both technically impressive, with tempo changes and deliberate riffage, yet seamlessly catchy, like Jawbreaker and The Weakerthans filtered through Guided By Voices and Dinosaur Jr. Hard Girls’ eclecticism is highlighted by Jesse Michael’s mind-bending album art. The opening song, “The Quark,” begins with a strummed open chord and the declaration, “Space can never be erased,” solidifying their philosophical approach. What follows are thirteen more sweltering jams that differ from head-on gut-punchers to tearjerkers and everything in-between, varied by the two distinct vocalists. The guitar playing is textural and searing, while the bass drives the central melody with its fuzzy Lou Barlow tone, and the frenetic drumming binds all of the elements together. With lyrics that run the gamut from literary to bleak humor, dream analysis to sci-fi, the sort of spectrum that ensures they’re never pigeonholed. (Favorite line: “So we can all get high now, ‘cause we’ll never find a way to get by now.”) Ultimately, Hard Girls are writing albums, not the same song, same progression, same tone over and over again, sidestepping the infinite loop of punk paint-by-numbers. Highly recommended.
–Sean Arenas (Asian Man)