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Barren Girls – Hell Hymns EP

on April 03, 2013, 12:00am

Do we need any more punk rock bands? Is there anything left to shout about that hasn’t been shouted about before? Have we exhausted every possible combination of power chords?

The Barren Girls’ response to those three questions: “Fuck yeah”; “Who cares?”; “Doesn’t matter.” Or at least those are approximations of how the Raleigh, NC quartet would respond, based on its debut EP, Hell Hymns. The band sprints through four songs in under 10 minutes, sloppily thrashing their instruments and worshiping The Runaways — in addition to looking exactly like them — at every turn.

Opener “Deal with the Devil” showcases the howl of frontwoman Carla Wolff. She sings with melody during verses, but when she reaches for high notes during the chorus, her voice cracks and shatters. Some singers would cringe at this; Wolff embraces it — just like Exene Cervenka and Chrissie Hynde before her. The rest of the Barren Girls play with a similar abrasion, unwavered by the occasional mistake or audible blemish (this is a debut EP, after all). These traits reach a climax during closer “She Devil”, Hell Hymns’ standout track. Sludgy guitars mingle with a quirky keyboard riff while Wolff wails away: “She devil! She devil!”

“Live fast, die young, regret nothing, and leave a pretty corpse,” reads Barren Girls’ Facebook page. And judging by Hell Hymns, they’re believers in those words. It’s sleazy, satisfying, breakneck punk — the fleetingness being the only real criticism against Hell Hymns. Yet isn’t that the point?

Essential Tracks: “She Devil”

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