As a staunch fan of the Flying Nun roster, Stefan Christensen likes his music hooky, simple, and just a bit off-kilter, and on his fourth album with his band Estrogen Highs, 2014's Hear Me on the Number Station, that's just what he has to offer. Sounding appropriately lo-fi, Hear Me on the Number Station is filled to bursting with jangle and static, like an early Guided by Voices album without the semi-prog rock lyrics, and Christensen knows how to make a tune rise to the surface amidst the buzzy backdrops. While Christensen and his band -- Mark Scialabba on guitar and bass, Wes Nelson on bass and guitar, and Ross Menze on drums -- are something less than precise, like their obvious inspirations Estrogen Highs get the spirit right even when the notes are just a bit off, and "Human Flings," "Privilege," "The Russian," and "Argyle Enthusiast" are all fine pop/rock tunes that would do most any indie pop act proud. The bare-bones, sometime clattery production isn't much of a detriment here, but occasional bursts of shapeless noise like "Sports Gaze" and "Underemployed" do end up weighing the album down, and given how effective the best tracks are, relative throwaways like "Flashing Fireworks" and "Ungrateful" sound lazy, frankly, as if the band couldn't be bothered to flesh the fragments into real songs. (And the mostly in-reverse number "Lear" sounds like something that was fun while stoned but lost its appeal the morning after.) Estrogen Highs have great ideas and the means and desire to do something with them on roughly half of Hear Me on the Number Station, and that's enough to make it worth a listen, but it seems like this band could manage a bit higher batting average if they focused more and goofed off with their four tracks just a bit less.
Share this page