Grass Widow

Internal Logic

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In the two years between 2010's Past Time and third album Internal Logic, San Francisco's post-punks Grass Widow haven't switched gears as much as oiled every nut and bolt of their mechanism. The band has always had a somewhat dreamy view of punk, with its signature three-part vocal arrangements adding introspection and depth to Raincoats-inspired primitive art-damaged song foundations. Early recordings were raw and rambunctious, and Past Time was a better-recorded album of unfortunately weaker songs. With Internal Logic (incidentally released on the band's own HLR label), Grass Widow comes into full focus with their most fully realized songs thus far. While the influence of early post-punk like the Buzzcocks, Essential Logic, Wire, or early-'80s Northwestern all-girl punkers the Neo Boys is at the roots of the band's sound, more attention has been paid to arrangement and songwriting here than ever before, making space for the songs to stand apart from their possible influences. The gorgeous pop of "Under the Atmosphere" has the same mellow, summery waves that listeners enjoyed on previous albums, but a more stripped-down instrumentation highlights just how gorgeous the three-part vocals are as they trade off with Raven Mahon's lackadaisically beachy guitar leads. Faster-paced tracks like "Disappearing Industries" and "Whistling in the Dark" (not to be confused with a They Might Be Giants song of the same name) move from the angrier punk influences and instead take a page from the melodic twee punk of early K Records luminaries Tiger Trap or even Lois at her most caffeinated. The album has a slightly subdued feel even at its most furious. While never threatening to become stoic or robotic, the band has refined some of the rawness that characterized their earlier work, smoothing out their jagged busy-ness into more minimal, contained explosions. The album is notably broken up by short nylon-string classical guitar instrumental "A Light in the Static" before diving headfirst into the surfy stomp of "Spock On Muni." With spot-on production and their most engaging material yet, Grass Widow come into their own on Internal Logic, and have given themselves enough room to grow into something more vivid and lasting than ever before.

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