Public Strain - Jagjaguwar
FILTER Grade: 82%
By Clayton Purdom on September 3, 2010
Public Strain is Women’s second record after a wonderfully confusing debut…and it provides no answers to our persistent questions: Is this pop or noise, ambient or rock? Most importantly, are Women exorcists or ghosts? What we do know: The quartet wrangles feedback, dissonant strings and Krautrock thump into surprisingly manageable songs, finding the types of hooks that both stick in your ear and leave claw marks. “Drag Open” is a jagged 2003-N.Y.C. kiss-off; sweetly cooing “Penal Colony” recalls The Shins. But still, what sort of guitar-rock band inspires tender songs about penal colonies and finds single tones, like on “Bells,” and lets them hum uninterrupted? Public Strain evokes such questions about genre and instrumentation, recalling heavy hitters like late-period Sonic Youth. But, don’t take them for imitators. What the men of Women are crafting is all their own—guitars strung over an abyss.