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Women

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The Canadian quartet Women have a bit of a split personality. On the one hand they write angularly catchy indie rock songs that owe much to Pavement and Eric's Trip among others, on the other they indulge in the kind of overloaded guitar noise that bands like Sonic Youth built a career on. Their debut self-titled album sounds like it was recorded (by Sub Pop recording artist Chad VanGaalen, who also adds instrumentation here and there) onto a cheap cassette found on a truck stop bathroom floor, and yet the melodic gifts the group possess are undeniable. Really, though, it puts listeners into a bind. If you are a noisenik, there might be too many tunes with hummable choruses. If you are a pop lover, the skronky waves of distorted guitar noise might be too much to handle. However, if you are the type of indie rocker who likes to have your pop delivered in a hissy, muffled bundle, then Women might be just what you are looking for. The band has the ability to make the surface noise and guitar squalls inviting rather than off-putting and even though some songs are art-damaged (the skittering, atonal "January 8th"), the album as a whole doesn't come off as pretentious or overbearing. It may take a few spins for the record to sink in, but once it does there is much to admire and even enjoy. At its most melodic (on "Black Rice," which sounds like a dB's song buried under two feet of sand, or the clattering album opener "Cameras"), the blend of noise and songcraft really clicks and the album becomes very interesting. Women may not be easy listening, but it is rewarding listening. ~ Tim Sendra, Rovi

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