Need to Feel Your Love harnesses the strengths of Sheer Mag's earlier work and builds on it significantly. Yes, they've replaced their signature reverb-y clatter with something slightly shinier, but that only serves to highlight the sharpness of these songs. Opener "Meet Me in the Street" plays like a party but reads like a call to action, as Halladay utters the title phrase to unite people against unjust, oppressive authority: "We're throwing rocks at the boys in blue," she croons. And when she sings about love here — as on uncharacteristically pretty ballad "Until You Find the One," the title track and elsewhere — it's mature and poignant, never clichéd.
Just as the cleaner production here allows the lyrics of co-writers Halladay and Palmer to shine (particularly on spiky anti-authoritarian highlight "Expect the Bayonet" and LGBT rights anthem "Suffer Me"), it highlights the band's expert playing, too. The almost-disco thump of "Pure Desire" is driven by stark, perfectly in-the-pocket guitars and bass, while the riff in the chorus of "Rank and File" is catchy enough to have done the job sans vocals.
There's nary a weak track here, and when Sheer Mag truly hit their stride, as they do on lead single "Just Can't Get Enough," they're untouchable. As musically fun and riff-heavy as it is lyrically direct and meaningful, Need to Feel Your Love is exactly the debut album fans wanted from Sheer Mag — not to mention one of the best of 2017 so far. (Wilsuns RC)