Psycho Sisters

Up on the Chair, Beatrice

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Is it possible for a band to make a debut album and a reunion album at the same time? If not, don't tell the Psycho Sisters, since that's what they've done with 2014's Up on the Chair, Beatrice. Susan Cowsill (best remembered as the youngest member of the Cowsills) and Vicki Peterson (who achieved stardom as a member of the Bangles) became friends and musical collaborators when they joined the Continental Drifters in 1991, and they formed the Psycho Sisters as a side project a year later. While the duo played occasional live shows in the '90s and released a single in 1992, Cowsill and Peterson never got around to making an album due to various logistical circumstances, and it wasn't until 2012 that events conspired to lead them back into the studio. Given the long wait for the Psycho Sisters' debut, Up on the Chair, Beatrice is a very pleasant surprise, revealing a pair of collaborators whose talents mesh beautifully. Cowsill and Peterson's harmonies are the heart of this album, and their voices, sweet but strong and with more than enough gravity behind them, are strong enough to carry this album all by themselves. But Cowsill and Peterson are also gifted songwriters; they had a hand in writing seven of the album's ten tunes, and the material (often dealing with the tricky side of relationships) is literate, heartfelt, and often witty, especially "Fun to Lie," "This Painting," and "Never Never Boys," while the schoolyard drama of Judi Pulver's "Heather Says," the breakup rant on Peter Holsapple's "What Do You Want from Me," and the droll kiss-off of Harry Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy" sound like they were made to order for the Sisters. Add in a fine studio band and simple but savvy production by Cowsill and Peterson and you get a splendid album from two first-rate talents who are even better when they work together. Pull up a chair and give this a listen.

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