Screaming Females, Ugly

Laura Leebove

By Laura Leebove

Managing Editor
on 12.03.12 in Reviews

New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Screaming Females have turned out roaring punk album after roaring punk album since 2006, amid booking hundreds of their own shows – some in basements and others in massive club venues warming up for the likes of Ted Leo, the Dead Weather and Garbage. Their Steve Albini-produced fifth LP Ugly is a darker, less melodic affair than its 2010 predecessor, which thrived on a perfect balance of hooky choruses and frontwoman Marissa Paternoster’s masterful guitar acrobatics. Paternoster hasn’t lost any of the full-throated, low-alto howl, best showcased in “Rotten Apple” (“Hell is within me/ Hell’s all around me now,” she snarls), and as she bellows “I want you to tell me to expire” in “Expire.” Ugly is long and it can feel that way, at 14 tracks, almost 54 minutes, but the high points (“Expire,” “Help Me,” the acoustic, string-backed closer “It’s Nice”) are high enough to make it worthwhile.