Up All Night

Gore Gore Girls

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Up All Night Review

by Bradley Torreano

As one of the cornerstones of the Detroit garage rock revival scene, the Gore Gore Girls always added a sense of kitchy surrealism to the haphazard indie rock of their peers. But the stakes were raised by those same peers since the release of 2000's Strange Girls, leaving one of the scene's most important outfits with the challenge of maintaining their quality in the face of growing national exposure. And their response is a simple one: They deliver a straightforward garage record. The album is an uncharacteristically relaxed affair, stripping away the punk rock throb of their debut and replacing it with a mid-tempo swagger. The new approach takes some of the immediacy out of their sound, but the engaging vocals of lead singer Amy Surdu, the campy humor of their lyrics, the disorienting movie samples, and the tighter band chemistry are still quite present. Featuring a mixture of covers and original numbers by lead songwriter Surdu, the difference between the two songwriting styles is noticeable. The covers, like the Goffin & King classic "Keep Your Hands off My Baby," are soulful girl group numbers that showcase Surdu's passionate croon. But her own compositions inject that sound with a heaping helping of Cramps-style sleaze, stripping some of the complex harmonies away and replacing them with a brash sensuality. Although most of these songs are catchy and fun tracks, one can't help but miss the audible enthusiasm that came with their previous album. By toning things down, they let one of their defining elements slip away and the record definitely suffers from it. But Up All Night isn't a bad album, it's just a mildly disappointing one that still manages to deliver a potent dose of rock & roll that puts most contemporary garage acts to shame. They might not be as aggressive here, but Surdu's charismatic presence and gift for writing melodic hooks makes Up All Night a worthy addition to their catalog.

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