Well, if you ask me (and if you are reading this you kind of did) the evolution of the rock chick and all that that implies, seems to have made a unexpected turn into a bit of a cul-de-sac in recent years. When did the brash femininity of the 90’s get dampened down, married off and traded in for mealy-mouthed chic-lit concerns? Frankness, irony and guts got replaced by unfascinating intricacies of past relationships, throwaway college lyricism and dance routines. And Jessie J! With the exception of a few feisty folkies, there seems to be a void that needs filling. Where is the new Patti Smith, the new Natalie Merchant, Debbie Harry, Sheryl Crowe or Alanis Morrisette (early years only of course)?
Someone who is helping to fill that girl with a guitar shaped hole is Courtney Yasmineh. Crafting pop melodies into rock songs rather than the other way around seems to be the perfect vehicle and the result is a collection of fully accessible songs yet often with a slightly less than obvious approach. Straightforward pop sits alongside skanked up, slick yet rootsy rock, wistful sentiments via for space along side slightly twisted, dark balladry and a wonderful use of space and atmosphere gives the whole lot room to take flight.
With Blondie references never far from her album reviews, it’s easy to spot them in songs such as Scrutiny but this is no mere copyist work and although there are various genre influences at work here, the overall sound and style remains original and cohesive and is identifiable as the Courtney Yasmineh Band. The title track may rock like a bitch but there is a wonderful juxtaposition with the following offering, Only One, revelling in an anything but naive yet wonderfully fluffy bubblegum groove. Apparition is a dark musical wash that plays wonderfully with space and dynamics, Entertained is a late night confessional or the final hours of an irredeemable relationship and Bury Me wouldn’t sound out of place on a Concrete Blonde album. Not a bad set of tricks to pull off.
But even amongst the soul searching and lyrical depth the band don’t lose their ear for a great groove and a hot riff and the counterpoint is found as Wandering Eyes struts it’s stuff or in the Latino back beat of Heartbreak Woman.
Maybe if there were more contemporary bands of this calibre, there would be less of a rush to idolise music’s past glories and embrace this weird, rose tinted, twisted nostalgia trip we seem hell bent on pursuing.