Giantess

Giantess

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Growing out of bandleader Stephen Wood's work leading the Battles -- and handily avoiding confusion with the other, increasingly more-well-known Battles on Touch and Go -- Giantess' self-titled debut features Wood and companions creating an amiable collection of garagey songs both hyperactive and reflective. Wood's approach is loving but a bit hampered by its formalism -- much of it feels like the '80s indie rock that in itself was a tribute to '60s rock & roll, and while sound and approach is as sound and approach does, there's almost nothing on the album that hasn't been heard before by any number of bands. As a result, it's the details more than the songs which stand out on Giantess, though often those details are killer, like the stop-start ending and keyboard sparkle on the opening "Saturday Night," a deft shift to Velvets/Modern Lovers-style chug halfway through the winning "Flex of Green." ("Wheels on Fire" -- not the Dylan song -- does an even better job with that approach; a whole album in that vein might well have been a good path to try.) "Einstein of Love" stands out as the highlight, a slow, heartfelt number with some lovely guitar performances throughout, including a stellar concluding solo. Otherwise, what Giantess feels like in the end is a celebration of everything from Jellyfish's own sharp pastiches to lesser variations on the same, and while that can prompt a smile, it does very little to help the band stand on its own feet.

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