STRIPWAX: “Tryin’ On The Outfits”July 28th, 2012 |
If you’ve ever spent a few days in Portland, Oregon, then you get why IFC’s Portlandia is funny; The city of Portland really is full of characters like the ones that populate the teevee show like the couple that wants to know the name and biographical story of the free-range chicken about to be served, the bitter lesbian book store owners, the messy hair and thrift-shop fashion sensibilities…these people and these things really do exist all over the city. It’s a pretty cool place if yer into left-of-center politics, coffee shops on every block filled with members of the creative class (and still more who think they are), and nearly as many places that host noisy rock and roll shows.The Outfits look and sound EXACTLY like what an all-grrl punk rawk trio from Portland should, except The Outfits are the OTHER Portland…the one in Maine.
I was fooled!
The tracks contained within Tryin’ On The Outfits are constructed mainly on the three chord Ramones boilerplate; loud, fast, and snotty. They sing songs about rejection, drinking, drugs, menstrual cramps, unwanted advances, and such biz, and it works for awhile. Halfway through the elpee though, The Outfits start to sound like a trio of drinking-age women with the emotional maturity of three thirteen-year-olds badly in need of a team of social workers armed with Adderall, or worse, a novelty act.
Then track eight comes along. “Don’t Ring Me Up” is one of several tracks that feature phone calls as a theme, but this one comes with a different kind of vocal performance. The bratty snarl is gone, and instead, singer and guitarist Sierra Roberts (or possibly bassist Kate Sullivan…I dunno!) sounds like a grown woman with the very adult problem of having to be the one to break off a bad relationship. It’s easily the strongest vocal performance on the record, and it’s probably the best track as well. “Don’t Ring Me Up” sounds like something from a future version of The Outfits that somehow boomeranged back off of a wrinkle in time into the present, a hint at what their true potential might be.