Women – Public Strain
The static storm cover for Public Strain is as good an entrée for its unsettling brilliance as the damaged symphony of first single Eyesore. The obtuse but beautiful art reflects what at times can be an uncomfortable listen – an oppressive and shady din of echoes and feedback, machinery and drones. Many of the tracks are to be praised more for the uneasy atmosphere they evoke rather than their individual qualities – for example, the opening Can’t You See groans with heavy pressure while Patrick Flegal coos amidst the disintegration, producing an effective scene-setter.
But Women can – and do – exploit an accessible pop side: for example, Drag Open drugs Sonic Youth and extracts their vigour while Venice Lockjaw is a funereal waltz, the Velvet Underground raised up from graves to woo the stars. In the synthesis of these two facets, one of the year’s most rewarding listens is born. [Chris Buckle]