Published Mar 02, 2015The sixth album from New Jersey trio Screaming Females isn't a departure from their previous five records, exactly: Rose Mountain still boasts the band's scrappy sonic mélange of grunge and classic rock, while guitarist Marissa Paternoster's solos are still as skilled and bracing as ever. But the band's abrasive edges have been smoothed down, and the songs themselves feel bigger and more accessible in structure — as accessible as the Screamales can get, anyway.
This can be attributed in part to producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus the Bear), who expertly balances the band's blazing and highly melodic instrumentals without sacrificing the tough, unflinching core that makes them singular. The biggest change, however, comes from the band's decision to open up their songwriting process and put Paternoster's vocals front and centre, and it's a wise one. Her massive, soaring warble summons equal parts Kristin Hersh, Edith Piaf and Geddy Lee and is hugely emotive, whether plaintively castigating her own mortality on "Rose Mountain" or issuing a lover's plea on the album's showstopper, "Hopeless."
Rose Mountain could be the album that finally brings these hardworking punkers to a wider audience after nearly a decade of existence, and it would be well deserved. (Don Giovanni)