Label: Jagjaguwar Release date: 23/08/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon When Women's first self titled album came out in 2008, they were pegged as one of the bands who would craft the future of music. Revolutionary, and unlike almost anything that had come before them. I never quite got the huge hype around women, their music seemed too durgy, and repetitive to really create a huge impact. Sure, it had a few elements that were pretty different, but it didn't really sound like crazy future music. After further and more open-minded listening, I began to get into Women. They songs weren't just nice pieces of indie-pop that'd they'd messed up with a lot of noise, but carefully layered and textured. Each track gliding into place out of the next. It's the future now, and Women haven't revolutionised anything, remaining a fringe band that the majority of listeners haven't quite got. Will Public Strain be their statement, building on their first and making a notable impact on the music scene? Like Women it sounds hugely reminiscent of so much that has come before it, it's clearest routes would be in 60s psychedelica, and art rock sounding remarkably like the velvet underground and their ilk. However, it's still different, gratuitous use of noise is nothing new in music but it's use in Public Strain is much more subtle than the use by most other bands. Aside from the brief interludes of static drone in-between songs, the use of noise feels completely normal and organic, as if it's meant to be there, in a Sonic Youth sort of way. Many noise-rock acts use noise as an element of their music that doesn't define it, but adds too it. Normal songs that just happen to have been smeared with static, and happen to have screeching in the background. Public Strain feels complete as it is, nothing feels tacked on, it all feels natural as if everything is in it's right place. Aside from that, not a lot actually happens in Public Strain, the songs are mind numbingly repetitive. The same riff repeated at infinitum, built upon a tiny amount as the song progresses. There are very few breaks, very few changes in tone. The songs aren't even distinct from each other, usually joined by noise interludes welding each track to the other. But Public Strain is a 30 minute low key, low tempo assault, and it's brilliant. So brilliant in it's own understated way that it's very difficult to define what's quite so brilliant about it, it's monotony is to it's strength. My favourite track from it, China Steps, doesn't even have any lyrics or key points of interest. It's a bass-line, and a bit of twangy guitar, that just builds upon itself with a pondering menace. What it, and the rest of the album, does exceptionally is hidden in the background, the tiny changes in the buzz underneath the song, changes in the texture. I suppose this is what makes Women slightly different from other bands. Most music is defined and made brilliant by key moments in the song. Great lyrics, a guitar solo and so on. It's not really that simple, but great music usually has it's stand out moments. Women are completely inaccessible in this way, they don't really make an intimidate impact upon the listener, but instead worming their way into the subconscious. Their first album was much more accessible than Public Strain, Black Rice did after all make it's impact as a single. Public Strain does not have this, but despite this it's probably better. It's going to take you a while to get into it's grove, notice the tiny changes in texture, and note all of the small elements that go into making the songs what they are. When you do, it'll be worth it, because Public Strain is very good, I've seen it compared to Kid A, but I think that's somewhat incorrect. Public Strain is not ever going to make a huge mainstream impact, it doesn't have the jump out sound and immediate “fuck yeah” feeling. What it could do, is be highly appreciated by those willing to put in the effort to hear it properly, and gradually grow in success as it ages, it's certainly built on their previous highly regarded effort. I wouldn't hold a huge amount of hope in it becoming thought of as a classic, but you never know because Public Strain really is something special. Photobucket