THE CONSTANT LOVER - Magneta Lane (Shiny Records)
There's something about Canadian bands that's culturally attractive – maybe it's the laid back attitude, maybe it's the indifference to US cultural imperialism, or maybe it's just the number of great artists that have come out of Canada.
Magneta Lover are a three-piece, all female garage pop band from Toronto. If they were from south of the Canadian-US border they'd probably find themselves sucked into the K Records/KRS/Chainsaw Records fempunk vortex – at least in a music industry marketing sense. But they're not, and that's positive thing.
"The Constant Lover" is the band's debut release, recently licensed for release in Australia by Shiny Records. The PR material namechecks The Pretenders, Blondie and The Strokes and that's as spot on as you'd need to be. I'd also thrown in The Go-Gos in their dingy LA punk club days, primarily to reflect Magneta Lane's DIY/garage aesthetic, and more than a bit of the sadly defunct Washington DC three-piece Slant 6.
In listening to the mini-album I was also reminded of fellow Canadians The Organ, who I saw earlier this year, enjoyed, but found myself wanting a bit more attitude or something. I reckon Magneta Lane have that something, though I'd need a better command of the French language to describe it properly.
Like The Pretenders and Blondie, Magneta Lane's frontwoman Lexi Valentine (now there's a name that won't be forgotten quickly) assumes a superficial dominance of the band's sound; but unlike Chrissie Hynde or Debbie Harry there's a snarling tone that's commensurate with the garage tradition.
The opening (title) track appears to be the lead (read – radio accessible) track, but is probably unrepresentative of the quality of the rest of the CD. After some warming up in "Kissing is Easy – a track that's understated in an alluring way – the band reaches moments of raw excellence in "Medusa", an extremely punchy song that oozes Acid Drops/Twenty Second Sect/Liz Dealey Band/Tinkerbelle in quality and attitude.
"So Please" has a guitar run that brought to mind Sleater-Kinney's "Dig Me Out", while "More of the Night" is balanced between fuzz guitar and a high pitched lead guitar loop that arrests attention like a car alarm (but doesn't piss you off like an alarm would). "Ugly Socialite" (a topic – with associated lyrics – I'm sure we can all understand) is classic Strokes (which in itself is an odd concept, if you can be bothered thinking about it).
I tend to be a sucker for girl pop/garage stuff (I'm sure Freud would have a lot to say about that, but he's got his own issues to deal with). This release isn't perfect, but what release is? I'll be keeping an eye out for Magneta Lover in the future; with more experience live and in the studio, their next release should be well worth considering. - Patrick Emery
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