Salem 66

A Ripping Spin

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Although they're becoming less dissonant and more direct than they were on their eye-opening, self-titled mini-LP debut, and truth be told, they sounded more interesting as an all-female Boston trio before they added a (male) second guitar (the economy of Judy Grunwald's simple parts seemed to fit Beth Kaplan's lead bass parts much better), this is still the hoped-for overwhelming success fans believed was possible. The main strengths are the feminine harmonies, floating between the two ladies named above among superb melodies and fragile, haunting lyrics. Few bands could ever lay their emotions on the table with the degree of alarming frequency as we see in "Carry a Torch" (the really worrisome question to ask a lover about an ex: "Does she still carry at torch for you?" -- and if the answer is yes, well, how about you too?). "Across the Sea" carries a similar but very different ache of separation, one common to bands that tour too much perhaps, and "Playground" seems fraught with concern more than any childlike romp. And good to see they finally recorded their longstanding cover of Wire's modest Pink Flag pop single masterpiece, "Fragile." An experience as much as an excellent record.