Just Enough Hip to Be Woman

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BRONCHO's second album followed a period of tough music industry scuffle for the Oklahoma scruff rock trio. After one album for Fairfax Recordings, Can't Get Past the Lips, they went looking for a better home and found one with Dine Alone. Their second record, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman, captures much of the lovably dumb (in the best way) punk rock spirit of the debut, but also shows the band maturing and dialing down the rambunctious energy. Leading off with two tracks that sound like they could have come from Lips, "What" and the insanely hooky "Class Historian," you might think a straight line is being drawn from one record to the next. True, the sound is measurably cleaner and more compact, but the punch and almost giddy drive of the debut is still there. Starting with the third song, "Deena," it feels like someone took the lights and dimmed them abruptly. The middle of the album is weighed down by a long stretch of songs that are stuck in muddy midtempo, chugging along pleasantly yet not at all memorably. By the time the introspective ballad "I'm Gonna Find Out Where He's At," which comes complete with some cheesy '80s synths, rolls around, it starts to get a little worrisome. The band was so good at knocking out simple and fun songs that were neither emotionally rich nor musically complicated, and it's a shame that they couldn't deliver another album full of them. The ninth song provides a jolt: the rollicking and silly "It's On" is exactly the kind of song BRONCHO excel at. From there the band dials it back down with two overly long, bloated tracks that almost get some sparks going, but ultimately bring the album to a very disappointing end. It may not be fair to criticize the band for not duplicating its first album exactly; nobody could expect that. What makes Just Enough Hip to Be Woman a real bummer is that while most of the midtempo songs and ballads are just fine and a few, like "NC-17" and the lilting "Stop Tricking," show some real skills, the record is tipped too far in their favor and feels underwhelmingly relaxed and energy-depleted. A few more songs like "It's On" and the near-brilliant "Class Historian" would have made the record something pretty great. As it is, BRONCHO need to head back to the studio with some Red Bull and a producer who can light a fire under them, because judging by their first album, they can do better than this.

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