BLEACHED Ride Your Heart CD/LP

What made Mika Miko shows such a blast—and I've come to realize that a lot of men didn't see their appeal—was that, as a 5-foot, 2-inch, 21-year old girl, being able to dance in a room full of other 21-year old girls, without having to worry about getting trampled on in a circle pit, allowed for fun without the safety concerns of a male-dominated punk show. Pussy reasoning on my part, but it's the truth. And it was unfortunately rare to see a group of girls get up and do what boys had been doing for thirty years, making stupid punk rock about mundane topics without worrying about being pretty. Maybe “Turkey Sandwich” was their “TV Party.” So it's a shame to see that the Clavin sisters have since hopped on the Dum Dum Girls train, with traditional girl group lyrics, and mini-dresses on stage (perhaps influenced by Jennifer Clavin's time in New York while singing for Cold Cave).

Normally, it's unfair to compare a band's work to the stuff of their bands prior, because really, people evolve, and music evolves. And it would be unfair to expect a musician to keep doing what they've been doing for ten years. Bleached happened because Jessie and Jennifer Clavin wanted to write music separate of Mika Miko, and this is their full-length realization, several years after the idea came to be. But it sort of can't be avoided in this instance. Granted, when Mika Miko happened, they were fresh out of their teen years, when it was okay to be awkward and celebrate nerd fun, and write songs despite not quite knowing how to play their instruments. But somewhere down the line they realized they were women and that it was now the proper thing to be attractive and feminine in song and in dress, and the thing that set them apart at one point is completely gone. They're about to take on more Best Coast comparisons than they can handle.

So, this girl group influence. Maybe the boy is thinking about her. Maybe he's not. Fifty years ago, a song like “Dreaming Without You” might've been a sassy feminist R&B number, but here, sung with boredom and indifference, it's lackluster, and frankly, by now, we're smart enough to know that the boy isn't dreaming of her, either. He never is. In fact, elsewhere, the protagonist of Ride Your Heart is bored, waiting for him to call—and quite literally at that (see “Waiting by the Telephone”). She's bored of waiting, and I'm bored hearing about it. What doesn't help is that the music carrying the lyrics is of a beach-pop formula that seems standard of late. I expect more of these girls because I know they're more fun and creative than this. But none of the record is particularly memorable; it's at once predictably retro and predictably of this time. [Dead Oceans]

-China Bialos

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