Des Ark’s full-length debut, Loose Lips Sink Ships, was a minefield of ex-lovers, one-night stands and unpaid bar tabs. On Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker, the band’s first LP in six years, singer-guitarist Aimée Argote still sounds like she’s made pit stops at every illegal still across the Tar Heel state, but the songs come out tighter and her lyrics are even more smoldering. You’ll hear some Chan Marshall in Argote’s drawl, but it’s cooler to think that this is what Patti Smith might have sounded like if Smith had dropped the beat poetry and sung about sexual desire. Though it’s lean at eight tracks, Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker shows off the band’s versatility. The album opens with the sprawling “My Saddle Is Waitin’ (C’mon Jump On It)”, which builds slowly using kalimba, bells and handclaps until Argote finally whispers, “I’d love to keep on loving you, my dear, but you’re already dead”. Then there’s “It’s Only a Bargain If You Want It”, which barrels down Tobacco Road with chugging guitars and Argote screaming “You will always be my girl!” Argote has grown as a songwriter, and when her lyrics fall in the muddled area between the emotionally raw and the sexually vulgar, she really draws listeners in. As she sings on “Howard’s Hour of Shower”: “I can feel you working on me like a clutch / I pull away, you pull in, I pull away again”.
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