When a punk band is fronted by a man, the band will most likely be called “aggressive.” When it’s fronted by a woman, however, “aggressive” is dropped for “sassy.” I don’t know if biology or sexism is to blame, but it truly is hard to get around these common descriptors. Take Pretty Girls Make Graves, for instance. When Derek sings, they sound fierce and, um, “aggressive.” When Andrea sings, however, the sound becomes more dramatic and, at times, “sassy.” It’s true. Listen for yourself if you don’t believe me. But when approaching Some Nerve, the new album by The Cinema Eye, neither adjective seems to fit.
Some Nerve is loud and fast, but not as visceral and adrenaline-inducing as more hardcore-leaning bands such as Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower or Red Light Sting. And yet, their female singer, Mollie Wells, doesn’t quite sound “sassy” enough to be described as such. Wells’ voice is somewhat lower and more operatic than most of her peers, erasing the sassy bad girl image that seems to follow so many punk rock frontwomen. She’s not as emo as Andrea from PGMG, but she’s not nearly as primal and crazy as the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O. Nonetheless, she’s a competent and apt match for The Cinema Eye’s synth-driven punk rock, surpassing the need for trivial tags to be attached to their sound.
So what do you call The Cinema Eye? Energetic, loud, intense, passionate — these all seem to do the trick, which may lead you to believe that “aggressive” would be good enough to be put in place of any of these. Not true. While songs like “Not a Word” and “Onward, Forward” rock hard (really hard), you don’t feel like they’re pummeling you. At times they even achieve a level of rock near heavy metal, but it’s more Danzig than Slayer, mind you. Whatever the case, The Cinema Eye most certainly has the chops to appeal to fans of straightforward punk rock and more new wave-leaning outfits alike.
The Cinema Eye shows lots of promise on Some Nerve. There isn’t a great deal of variation between songs, but they’re on a mission — to ROCK — and a ballad or two would only detract from the overall effect. It may not be “aggressive.” It may not be “sassy.” But whatever it is, it ain’t half bad.
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Good Health
Your Enemies Friends – You Are Being Videotaped
Sahara Hotnights – Kiss & Tell
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.