This reconfigured Left Coast trio churns out happy, boppy, sub-two-minute punk songs... one of them in French!
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.