If you thought Women were weird and loud, just wait until you hear what Patrick Flegel is doing these days. While his former bandmates continue down the post-punk path as Preoccupations, Flegel has gone in a decidedly stranger direction under the alter ego Cindy Lee. Act of Tenderness was the project's debut album back in 2015, and following the extremely limited original pressing, it's now getting a well-deserved wider run.
Act of Tenderness is a curious mix of pop classicism and creepy experimentalism. On the freaky end of the spectrum, "Quit Doing Me Wrong" is a ramshackle anti-rock deconstruction full of detuned guitar and "Bonsai Garden" sounds, like a horror movie murder scene soaked in static. These moments of ugliness make the melodic tracks even sweeter: "Operation" is beautifully spooky electro-pop with haunting falsetto hooks, while "Wandering and Solitude" has a gorgeous guitar lick that sounds like it was beamed in from the early '60s. With repeat listens, these glimmers of pop beauty become increasingly apparent, and even the harshest moments are eerily inviting rather than alienating.
Three years on from this debut album's original release, Cindy Lee still feels like an obscure curio compared to the buzz-band acclaim that Women once enjoyed. Hopefully this reissue gives this oddly beautiful album the attention it deserves. (W.25TH)