Talk Normal

Sugarland

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Talk Normal's Sarah Register and Andrya Ambro have never hidden how much they draw from their influences. They named themselves after a Laurie Anderson song; from moment to moment, their vocals suggest the whispery menace of Kim Gordon or the shrill power of Karen O; and the angular fury they whip up with their guitar and drums prove they've got Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Pylon, Ut, the Magik Markers, and DNA in their musical DNA. But just because it's clear which artists inspire them doesn't hinder their individuality on their official debut album Sugarland. Even when they're as cerebrally taunting as Anderson, as on "Uniforms" or "Bold Face" -- which repeats "Short man, you had it comin'" until the guy is virtually in ribbons -- they maintain the tension of more visceral tracks like "Warrior," a collision of glitchy rhythms and wild vocalizing that is primal and robotic at the same time. Throughout even the most challenging moments, such as the full-on guitar squalls on "River's Edge," Sugarland is surprisingly hooky. Register and Ambro's approach is even more refined than it was on the Secret Cog EP. They sound more muscular and more precise than ever on the album's opening tracks "Hot Song," which controls its outbursts like jet blasts, and "In a Strangeland," where Register's guitars go from grappling with Ambro's drums to sheets of feedback. Talk Normal also display more subtlety on Sugarland than they have before, most strikingly on their cover of Roxy Music's "In Every Dream Home a Heartache," which hones in on the agonized undercurrent in the song's quiet section before its ferocious climax. Though Register and Ambro have released plenty of CD-Rs before this album, Sugarland is as impressive a statement of intent as a debut should be, and shows that Talk Normal carry the no wave torch with flair and creativity.

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