The stripped-down sound of Scramble suits the girls' snarling rock, but the range suggests they've outgrown their humble garage sound.
Fidelity might be holding the Coathangers back on their new album, Scramble. But the stripped-down sound gives them an infusion of bratty energy. Songs like "143", "Arthritis Sux", and "Bury Me" are clever, tense and as fun as they are bracing. On these songs, their boundless energy can range from doe-eyed zeal to bone-deep scorn, and the band is at top form, since some of the other songs -- like "Gettin' Mad and Pumpin' Iron -- rely far too much on ironic anger.
But other tracks -- like the moody weave of "Sonic You" or the art-rock insistence of "Pussywillow" or the lilting pop of "Dreamboat" -- shows the band's brilliant range. These songs stand out on the record not only because they're great, but because the lo-fi sound feels like it contains them too much. These songs could be bigger, fuller, and even greater than they already are.
Scramble is a very solid record, but if anything it shows us the Coathangers' talents have outgrown their humble garage sound. If these ladies ever hole up and make a real studio record, we best all get out of the way. It's bound to knock us out. Until then, Scramble will get its jabs in, and when it lands one, you'll surely feel it.