Tap the name of New York power-pop twosome Morningwood into Google, and the fourth result you are offered is a Wikipedia page that seems more like a relatively sophisticated entry into the Urban Dictionary. “Morning wood”, it reads, “is a colloquialism referring to the phenomenon of penile erection following sleep, related to nocturnal penile tumescence.” Even beyond the juvenile moniker, sexual reactions are clearly the idée fixe of this newly halved quartet. Frontwoman and focal point Chantal Claret heads a singular and feisty pursuit of what she dubs predictably in “Hot Tonight” as “a good time”—and by “good time”, you can rest assured she means some top-notch coital interaction. It certainly sounds like it comes naturally to her: “I sweat when you get me unzipped,” she purrs on “How You Know It’s Love”, while “Three’s a Crowd” hears he casually shrugging “in 15 minutes we will both be getting it on.”
While her name sounds like it’s borrowed from a porn star, Claret sounds cutesy more often than seductive. Track titles, “Sugarbaby”, “Snobby Little Elf”, and “Bipolar Bear” for a start, don’t help, but even the more swaggeringly rambunctious numbers give a paradoxical impression of innocence. It hardly helps that she’s splashing her colors onto a drab wallpaper of glam-lite, the corner-to-corner onslaught of chunky power-chords and predictable song structures doing nothing to bristle up any excitement. Some will find “Best of Me”, Morningwood’s bratty calling card, fun enough, but sex appeal or no sex appeal, Diamonds & Studs is so safe that it is more Disney does Debbie Harry than Debbie Does Dallas.
// Notes from the Road
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