Screaming Females - All At Once

This indie-rock band from New Brunswick embarks on their seventh full-length release with a sound that captures elements of alternative music from decades past while still delivering an album that feels new. The band has put together a compilation of fifteen tracks that clock in at around fifty minutes. Though a lengthier album by today’s standards, the mix of shorter and longer tracks are positioned well and the album doesn’t feel drawn out.

This record opens with the haunting “Glass House,” a song that is strong and dramatic. The vocals take turns with the amplification of the guitar and drums – a back and forth that is sure to capture attention. This repertoire highlights the nature of the tempestuous themes on the record, and the format of this opening track sets the stage for the rest of the album’s lyrical content. The track ends abruptly with the vocalist’s voice, seeming to declare that she has the last word in the matters discussed lyrically.

“I’ll Make You Sorry” has an infectious hook with a guitar that reeled me in. The overall sound is reminiscent of Sonic Youth and sounds like it could have been released in the late ‘80s.

“Dirt” is characterized by its cynical lyrics which go well with its dreary sound. The vocals are more monotonous on this track, but it feels appropriate for the subject-matter. The lyrics are about someone’s words essentially being dirt, and the short length of this song suggests that the vocalist has nothing left to say to whomever it is dedicated.

There are a few forgettable tracks on this album, but some redeem themselves by picking up some interesting qualities later in their run-times. ”Soft-domination” starts out rather bland but has a quiet-yet-concentrated instrumental between the bridge and final verse that breaks the repetitiveness of the song. “End Of My Bloodline” also has an issue with repetitive lyrics but its tone sets it apart from the others and makes it rather memorable.

“Agnes Martin” is worth nothing because of its nod to early ‘90s alternative music. At times, the layered guitars paired with the bass remind me of Siamese-Dream era Smashing Pumpkins, known for the heavy-handed albeit wonderfully crafted guitar-work. I felt the Siamese Dream influence again in the closing track, “Step Outside,” which starts out with a shining lengthy instrumental, leading the listener to believe the album might just close without another note of Marissa’s voice. Just before mid-point, however, the vocals enter and Marissa’s delivery is nothing short of a pleasing closing to the album.

While there are some songs that feel like filler, there’s enough variation between tracks that the full-effort doesn’t get tired and lost along the listening experience. There is a visit to alternative music of a couple of decades ago on this record, but lyrical themes like those on “Glass House” (possibly a commentary on the transparency of our lives via social media) remind listeners that this album is, in fact, a record of the present-day.

You can listen to Screaming Females’ new album ‘All At Once” on Spotify and Apple Music. And check out Screaming Females at their website.