Reviews Sex Stains Sex Stains

Sex Stains

Sex Stains

Sex Stains put it all out front on the opening “Countdown to…” which is as much a confrontational statement of purpose as it is a song. The speak-sing nature and rambling tone set the stage instead of opening with a thundering riff or singalong hit. The band is equal parts accessible punk, destructive no wave, and art rock. And, yes, Allison Wolfe (ex-Bratmobile, Cold Cold Hearts, and others) is one of the main voices and there’s the inevitable Riot Grrl vibe and her distinct enunciation at play throughout the record.

Sex Stains, though, is a new band with a new feel. There are some familiar moments. The sneering delivery within “Sex in the Subway” is reminiscent of the ‘90s scene and the overall unapologetic and direct tone fits that movement as well.

What makes this band unique is both the wide range they take across the 12-song album, but also the song structures and two-singer trade-offs. Different songs sound of the punk world, some are rambling and chaotic like “Countdown to…” and then there’s the out of left field “Cutie Pie,” which is a dub step thing that’s actually a welcomed positive vibe with a dance beat that complements the often harsher tone on the record. The dual vocals are used in a conversational textured and trade-off fashion, as Wolfe plays off Mecca Vazie Andrews and vice versa. Wolfe follows a more traditional punk singer role, while Andrews uses more vocal cues and variations to whoop and belt in conjunction with the instrumentation. Then, in the playful “Who Song Love Song,” they speed up those handoffs in a crystal clear metaphor on mansplaining. The two-singer interchanges are really the defining trait of the band and, despite Wolfe’s more familiar name, Andrews, often upstages her.

Bratmobile was one of the weirder, more adventurous bands in the Riot Grrl scene and Sex Stains definitely keeps that open musical mind concept, taking it further. There are shades of coarse, screamy punk but, truly, Sex Stains is more upbeat, experimental and fun. There are party music tones at the backbone of some of the songs in open contrast to the deconstructive tone at the forefront. It’s a wild ride that’s seamless enough to pull off the stylistic mish-mash. Angry and playful at the same time.

7.9 / 10Loren
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Tor Johnson Records
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7.9 / 10

7.9 / 10

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