With a couple of indie releases to their credit and a healthy dose of D.I.Y. spirit, Portland rockers Summer Cannibals found a bit of breakout success in 2016 with their third album, Full of It. It marked the quartet's first release for a label (Kill Rock Stars) and doubled down on their mix of punk, garage pop, and riffy fuzz-rock. Over the next couple of years, they completed a fourth album which then sat on the shelf while frontwoman Jessica Boudreaux disentangled herself from what the band's press release describes as "a manipulative personal and creative relationship." Though unnamed, the implications seem to point to the unreleased album's producer or collaborator as Boudreaux and her bandmates subsequently scrapped the entire thing and set about recording a new album entirely on their own. Released in June 2019, this time by the Tiny Engines label, Can't Tell Me No acts as a noisy, defiant take down of both their own perpetrator and of abusers across the board. With stinging guitars and biting lyrics, nearly every song takes the offensive from the frenetic title cut to the condemnations of "False Anthem" where Boudreaux snarls "despise the strong, you know how weak you are, look ahead and see your future's gone, 'cause here it is, right in my motherfucking palm." Words are not minced here. Still, as personal and motivated as Can't Tell Me No's message is, the album doesn't necessarily take the band anywhere new. Four albums into their career, Summer Cannibals' musical formula remains largely unchanged. While their brand of wiry, straight-ahead rock & roll still has teeth, a bit more of a shake-up wouldn't hurt them.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger