Montreal’s Private Lives barrel roll into the room from the first moments of their debut LP, Hit Record. The band slipped out an EP last year, which they use as the bones of the debut, doubling those early five tracks with a breathless batch of five more. The band excels at a hot-wire jolt of punk — propulsive and barbed but not frayed. They mix the electric itch with a slight garage grit, finding themselves doused in the adrenaline sweat that ran rampant over Royal Headache. Though the record, at its heart, feels most indebted to the alt-punk fizz of the ‘90s, sliding on the shelf quite nicely next to copies of The Muffs, Veruca Salt, and Helium or their modern mirrors in Ex-Hex, Wild Flag, and Cable Ties.
That’s in no small part due to the sonic scratch of Jackie Blenkarn’s vocals. With the band’s elastic tension, pogo-ready rhythms, and growl of guitars behind her, Blenkarn injects a towering grandeur into the mix. She’s laying down punk invective in one beat and letting the pop sway in the next. Whether its atop the hand-clap hop gone surf of “Trust In Me,” the New Wave ripple of the title track, or the breathless tension of “Dead Hand,” her vocals slice through the torrents, shifting with a chameleonic charm to match the band’s whims. Its a strong debut, and one that warrants keeping a close eye on the band in the future.
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