2010 | CD / LP | FLCR021
Now re-issued on limited edition clear vinyl!
On their debut self-titled album, Women embraced sonic brashness that deeper examination revealed to be tinted with sly pop melody. With Public Strain the band honed a sound truthful to that reverb drenched noise while allowing the pop sensibilities to surface into clearer focus.
- Can't You See
- Heat Distraction
- Narrow With The Hall
- Penal Colony
- China Steps
- Drag Open
- Locust Valley
- Venice Lockjaw
On their debut self-titled album, Women embraced sonic brashness that deeper examination revealed to be tinted with sly pop melody. With 'Public Strain', the band honed a sound truthful to that reverb-drenched noise while allowing the pop sensibilities to surface into clearer focus.
'Public Strain' is the second and final album by Canadian rock band Women. Two songs on the album are direct references to the artist Ray Johnson: "Locust Valley" is the name of the town where Johnson lived in New York. "Venice Lockjaw" is a phrase Johnson incorporated in pins that he gave away at the 1990 Venice Biennale. Johnson was also referenced on Women's 2008 self-titled album; "Sag Harbour Bridge" refers to the location where Johnson committed suicide in 1995.
From the opening strains of "Can't You See" it's clear that the album is far more than just a continuation of their debut. Resting upon a plodding bass line, deadpan vocal delivery, and bowed guitars and cello, this moody, nocturnal ballad opens the album on a dark note – one that is quickly countered by "Heat Distraction", a jigsaw of bright guitar phrases and winding time signatures. This exact balance of delicate and dense is a pervasive thread throughout the album, reflecting the contradiction of the band's environment buried in urban sprawl framed by prairie landscape.
Whether twisting through the urgent krautrock of "Locust Valley", an exercise of harmony through simplicity or climaxing with the bittersweet melody of "Eyesore", the album somehow builds luminous contrast out of a palette of grays.
In places claustrophobic, conjuring walking dreams of sexual anguish and general decay, elsewhere soaring with vintage guitar tones and vocal melodies or collapsing into a swirling, mesmerizing swells, 'Public Strain' cycles through insomnia, paranoia, resignation, and euphoria, to capture a band with an undeniable voice coming into full awareness of their craft.
Pat Flegel, Matt Flegel, Chris Reimer, Mike Wallace
Produced by Chad VanGaalen
What the men of Women are crafting is all their own—guitars strung over an abyss.
It might take time to grasp, but this is one of 2010’s finest LPs.
An enigma you resolve to crack.
UNCUT, 4/5 STARS
Women tread the line between discord and delight with deceptive style.
MOJO, 4/5 STARS
One of the year's most rewarding listens is born.
THE SKINNY, 4/5 STARS
We already knew that Women could aim for the head but the likes of 'Penal Colony''s melancholy choral balladry and 'Venice Lockjaw''s sweet nostalgic lullaby prove that they can now bury their way down into the heart just as well.
Contrary little fucks they may be, but Women are one of the flat-out finest guitar bands around right now, and Public Strain is the shrugging, malevolent proof.