Judge Nothing

I'm a Big Girl Now

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A fine debut from one of Chicago's more melody conscious '90s emo/indie rock bands, I'm a Big Girl Now shows the group subtlety but enthusiastically injecting a wide variety of influences into an often one-dimensional genre. The disc's first track, "Enchanted Fools," at first appears to be a standard Hüsker Dü/early Nirvana-style punk tune, but reveals a chorus melody more typical of '80s commercial power pop à la Rick Springfield. On other tunes, huge stud-metal riffs lurch and grind beneath twang-laden vocals that recall bands like the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies, Reckoning-era R.E.M., and Illinois brethren Uncle Tupelo. The lyrics on I'm a Big Girl Now are a bit more heady than the usual "boy loves girl but can't understand her" stuff, often employing poetry-like wordplay in a folk singer/songwriter mold. Never straying too far from the mission, however, Judge Nothing knows how to play it dumb, fast, and hard with aplomb, as the one-minute, nine-second, straight-up HC burner "Out of My Way" attests. Though there's a lack of immediately memorable songs here, there are tons of small pleasures in the form of short melodic and rhythmic hooks that coyly duck in and out. Consequently, I'm a Big Girl Now richly rewards repeated listening.

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