Women, Public Strain
This is mysterious music, and being confused by it is a pleasure
The sundry details of the Calgary four-piece Women are easy enough to find, but it would take away some of the fun of their enigmatic and hypnotic second album, Public Strain. This is truly mysterious music, and being confused by it is a pleasure.
Recorded by fellow Canadian Chad VanGaalen, Public Strain, is of medium fidelity but close-up in its perspective. On songs like the creeping "China Steps," you can hear the squeak of the kick drum pedal. But the album doesn't feel live as much as it does alive. Songs seem to organically go in intuitive but unexpected directions, making severe changes in pace, volume and tone without warning.
Like their self-titled debut, Public Strain calls to mind the work of post-punk's Mount Rushmore — Public Image Limited, Television and Joy Division — and some of its lesser known but equally influential proponents, such as This Heat.
Great post-punk often finds bands drawing moments of strange beauty out of abrasive sounds, or finding a groove in broken rhythms, two things Women do with great aplomb. "Penal Colony," despite its title, is actually a gorgeous piece of nearly choral-pop, while the aforementioned "China Steps" and "Untogether," chase the same driving beat that inspired Can and the Velvet Underground; primal, loose and driving you somewhere you've never been before.