All Girl Summer Fun Band

Looking into It

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In the five years since the last All Girl Summer Fun Band album, 2, the group lost one member, bassist Ari Douangpanya (who left to pursue motherhood), and had another member, drummer Kathy Foster, hit it big as a member of indie punks the Thermals. Neither of these two distractions has led to any drop in quality on 2008's Looking Into It, and the record is their most mature and fully realized release to date. Their approach hasn't changed much, still rollicking and sweet with equal parts indie pop and punky pop informing the sound. This time out, Kim Baxter's vocals are more assured and the songs revolve around more grown-up versions of crushes, heartbreak, and love though. No silly odes to Jason Lee or video games here. While those kinds of songs were fun, it's more satisfying to hear the bandmembers apply their considerable talents to songs with some real emotions flowing through them. It's also nice that the group has traded in the slightly shambling feel of previous efforts with a more focused and intense attack. Foster's more muscular drumming and the louder guitars keep things rocking on the uptempo tracks, and the lovely vocal harmonies give the ballads a real punch. Check the mostly instrumental title track or the almost heavy album closer, "This Will Never End," a song that betrays a previously unthinkable metal influence, for some serious rock action. On the softer side, look to "Rewind" or the fragile "Lost" for a dose of melancholy heartbreak. It's possible that fans of their earlier work will miss the more amateurish and cute element of the All Girl Summer Fun Band's sound; hopefully those fans will realize that the group has grown and changed without sacrificing the core of tenderness and energy that made it so good to begin with. That's a rare feat, and the trio accomplishes it in style on Looking Into It.

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