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Clorox Girls

J'Aime Les Filles

(BYO; US: 17 Apr 2007; UK: Available as import)

Short, sweet, pop-punk bliss

Four years ago, Oakland’s Clorox Girls turned out an overlooked classic in pop-ish punk, their self-titled debut rampaging through 12 Buzzcocks-sweet, Dils-sardonic cuts in 17 minutes.  Personnel changes ensued—at one point, the band was sharing a bass player with equally excellent Portland punks the Observers—and the band faded from view.  Now, they’re back, or at least frontman Justin Maurer is.  The bleach blond (chloroxed?) guitar/vocalist has two new band-mates and an album full of old and new alternate universe hits.  The record, engineered by Exploding Hearts knob twister Pat Kearns, is fuzzier and less confrontational than the self-titled, its scrappy up-and-down strumming sweetened by hook-filled verse and chorus.  It’s also partially in French, not just the title, but in an exuberantly goofy cover of Lio’s “Le Banana Split” and a keyboard bubbly romp through “Flowers of Evil” (surely a Rimbaud reference?).  Maurer revists old triumphs—the pop-fantastic “Stuck in a Hole” from the self-titled and more ominous “Eva Braun” from an old 7”.  But the new stuff is right on a par, especially “Caught in the Middle”,  whose pile-driver drums and high-speed “whoo-ee-oohs” perfectly encapsulate teenage sexual confusion.  Fans of Exploding Hearts, The Thermals, Observers and FM Knives… this one’s for you.

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