Punk rock is and always has been more about the gut than the mind. Screaming Females know as much, and the New Brunswick band’s punchy brand of indie punk has never been weighed down much by pretension or overthinking. Still, the trio was curious to see just how far they could get on their musical reflexes alone. Hence we have Chalk Tape EP, a seven-song, 15-minute EP written and recorded on a whim as the songs came to them, no rewrites.
The process alone protects Chalk Tape from too much criticism, considering it was approached more as an experiment than a proper release. Even still, the end result, while expectedly rough and unpolished, shows some surprising versatility. After a few charming seconds of dicking around, opening track “Sick Bed”, led by drums, bass, and vocals, tickles an artful sweet spot somewhere between the Minutemen and the Talking Heads.
“Crushing The Kingdom” and “Green Vapors” can best be described as mid-tempo pop-punk by numbers, while “Poison Arrow” unlocks singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster’s inner Kim Gordon. The band also cools the tension in spots, as “Bad Men” strips things down to an acoustic core.
Chalk Tape works considering it was pulled together in such an ad hoc fashion, and it succeeds primarily by that qualification. But while it’s no substitute for proper albums like Castle Talk or Ugly, the EP speaks to the Females’ ability to spring into action when inspiration strikes.
Essential Tracks: “Sick Bed”, “Poison Arrow”