Honestly, I didn’t expect this from the Coathangers. The group’s always been a blast to jam to, but in no way did I expect these ladies to offer up such a complete record as Suck My Shirt. Four albums into their career and this is far away their best record, and for what it’s worth, the best thing I’ve wrapped my ears around.
From the opening moments of Suck My Shirt, the album offers a bit of gritty rock n’ roll that’s juxtaposed perfectly with tiny bits of pop. “Follow Me” features drummer Stephanie on vocal duties, offering her gruff rasp over a precision drum beat. But, the simple entrance of “whoas” in support give that catchy touch that makes the group so endearing at the moment. Personally, I love the way Stephanie’s vocals battle back and forth with her counterpart, Julia Kugel. Take, for instance, “Adderall,” which pops up later on in the album. The vocals are strained while the guitar work slides up and down the scales. It would seem like the drummer has the key with her performance, but then Kugel slides in with just a the slightest yelp of “yeah” or “what” during the chorus; it completely takes a good song to the next level.
But, one thing remains the same with this modern version of The Coathangers: the ladies still bring bubbly fun to their tunes. Sure, there’s a dark edged propulsive rhythm on “Springfield Cannonball,” but as the cymbal crashes and the guitar knifes through like a siren there’s still an element of frivolity to what they’re doing. They’ll even get you bouncing and moving when you go ahead to the next track, “Merry Go Round.” High-hat work coordinating with the way the guitar’s played would be enough to get you tapping your toes, but the vocals are both bratty and driven by an inherent hook. Just imagine yourself rocking to a surf-pop act, only this time it’s fueled by ladies with a sinister sense of humor and fun.
Still, it’s not all pop spun on a knife’s tip; there are some generally sweet songs lurking throughout. For one, you can take the quieted effort on “Zombie,” which has one of the most gentle vocal displays the band has to offer. Even when they jump the pace up a bit, there’s an element of enchantment coming through your speakers. It works well with a song like “I Wait,” that offers almost a jazzy crooner feel to it, though done in the vein of an evil temptress. It’s just a sign that the group has it all at the moment.
I’m not generally one to fawn too much over a record, but I don’t know why anyone would have anything negative to say about Suck My Shirt. It’s playful in all the right spots, yet filled with ballsy rock n’ roll moments that will please any listener. For what it’s worth, The Coathangers have been building toward this for a long time, but it feels like this is the culmination of all their hard work coming together perfectly. I dare you to disagree.