[28 February 2011]
It is possible that no other era of popular music has contained as high a number of female musicians in such a wide variety of popular genres as the one we currently inhabit, but in purely mainstream terms at least, this has still failed to translate into as strong a selection of quality music and positive role models as it reasonably should. In a just world, then, the five young women in the Minneapolis-based band Sick of Sarah would be more widely known than they currently are, especially since their brand of spiky, hook-filled punk-pop is the kind that the radio eats right up. Yet Sick of Sarah craft their tunes with an unusual degree of grace and intelligence, delivering 10 songs brimming with melody and drama on their second full-length for Adamant Records, 2205. It helps that the band has a great asset in the rangy, expressive vocals of singer Abisha Uhl, who nails the biting cynicism of hard-driving songs like “Overexposure” and “Kick Back”. She’s also spot on with the wistful melancholy of slower ones like “Cigarettes” and “Shattered”. It is the band’s lyrics that really impress, though. They address the very complexities of adolescent female insecurity (“Imagine me at 17 / Depressed and thin, homecoming queen”) and outrage (“You’ll never show enough skin / For them to let you in”) that their more shallow, image-conscious peers either shamelessly exploit or outright ignore. If Sick of Sarah lack the critical and corporate support to storm the gates of MTV, their tuneful and thoughtful music nevertheless offers a much-needed antidote to the Ke$ha/Katy Perry commercial juggernaut.