One of the best bands to bubble up from the UK underground in the past few years was the high energy DIY outfit Sauna Youth. As luck would have it the band’s Jen Calleja also sports another outfit in the form of Feature. The trio embraces DIY via a feminist punk vantage and they explore the vein of sexism that permeates female musicianship on the whip-smart Banishing Ritual. Baring a few more teeth than Sauna Youth – the record is rooted in pop but not afraid to get down into the din – flaunting noise as a formidable weapon in their arsenal. Popcorn drumbeats start the tempos skittering into motion, but the guitars don’t rush, finding themselves heavily indebted to Cold Wave and Post-punk’s motorik meets elastic tension.
The record has it’s hooks (plenty actually), but it’s more about setting a mood than lingering earworms here. The band drops in bracing and brash to catch your attention and then lays into the listener with a dose of consciousness and a distortion scrub to to strip away the clutter gunking up your life. There’s been a real return to form of ’90s grunge ethos in the past couple of years, heavy blasts of guitar masking nuggets of pop bubbling under the surface. Like their predecessors in Helium, The Muffs, The Wedding Present (during their Albini dalliance) or Elastica they know how to balance pressure, power and pop into a package that’s worth returning to again and again. Another winner this year from UK label Upset The Rhythm!
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