Sweater Girls

Sweater Girls Were Here...

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Sweater Girls' debut album, Sweater Girls Were Here..., couldn't be more indie pop. It's got handclaps and la-la-las, fizzy guitars and glockenspiel, songs about crushes and unrequited love. It's got the DNA of Talulah Gosh and the Shop Assistants coursing through it, the sugar sweetness of the Softies and the lo-fi clatter of Black Tambourine too. Basically, this L.A. quintet sounds like it took the past 25 years of indie pop, fed it into a computer (one of those giant ones that takes up an entire room), and then played the results. Not to say that their album or sound is a bloodless reconstruction of the past, because it isn't. The band puts plenty of effort and cardigan-clad energy into the hook-filled and hummable songs that really brings them to life. The fast songs like "Infatuation Street" and "Space Crush" burst out of the speakers like tiny rockets, the happy midtempo tracks like "Fingers Crossed" and "Sweater Weather" have an easygoing sweetness that feels like a hug, and the more melancholy songs ("Fast Forward Time," "Secret Weapon") have a wistful tenderness that isn't easy to pull off convincingly. The group has a classic indie/noise pop sound, duplicated by many but only rarely done with the kind of loving care and sure-footed skill Sweater Girls exhibit through the album. Jackie Teran's drums aren't high in the mix but they drive the band powerfully, giving Diana Meehan and Joey Teran's jangle-fuzz guitars something to chase after. Diana Meehan's lovely vocals have the prerequisite amount of sweetness and light, but also enough power to hit all the notes and convey some real emotion when the occasion calls for it. When she and Tatiana Sanchez sing together in harmony, it conjures up the best female-sung indie pop (Heavenly, most obviously) and also seriously tugs at the heartstrings. When you add it all up -- the great songs, the exciting performances, the sound of the recording -- it's hard not to rank Sweater Girls right up there with the bands they so lovingly idolize. Sweater Girls Were Here... may not be groundbreaking in any way, but that's OK, because it is a perfect reminder of why indie pop is so easy to fall in love with, even after all these years.

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