2016 is just 60 days old and my favorite record of the year, so far, has to be the sparkling, bounding, bouncing KINGSIZED by Dressy Bessy. It’s a record that blends bang-bang pop ditties with fuzzy scuzzy lo-fi guitar tones humming and buzzing with not-so-subtle nods to psychedelic rock. Merci beaucoup!
The guitar sound on this album echoes with the influences of Kim Deal, Rick Nielsen, Ray Davies, George Harrison, and Joan Jett. But it’s not just about the guitars. Lead singer Tammy Ealom’s staccato vocals punch their way right off these tracks. Her voice alternates smoothly from old school rock harmony to straight up angry shouting to confessions whispered behind a shielding hand and back again, oddly reminiscent of an early Corin Tucker. But don’t read that the wrong way: this record is light years away from anything riot grrl. There is nothing hardcore punk here.
KINGSIZED opens with “Lady Liberty,” a more-or-less political song with clear influences from both Apples in Stereo and Cheap Trick, and that delightfully ends with the rueful hero worship of a colossal neoclassical sculpture made almost entirely of copper; and yet statues are, pretty much by definition, of little use in effecting meaningful social change.
Dispensing quickly with the catchy irony, the next song is the driving “Get Along (Diamond Ring),” a song in which Ealom commits fully and with cracking brutal honesty; it’s a hard and frank conversation with oneself worthy of rehearsing over and over and over in the bathroom mirror.
On the album’s title track, “King Sized,” the band cranks the pop throttle all the way open, welcoming the cutie pies, the nice guys, the queen-sized, the little bits of me and you. On this song more than perhaps any other on the record, the pop-psychedelic rock and roll vibe of the guitars hangs in happy balance with the casually conversational tone of the vocals.
With the ghost of George Harrison beaming down beatifically on a sandy beachscape of blushing infatuations and sudden crushes, “Honey Bee” bops happily along as a charming ode to sucking face under a summer sun. Seriously; if this song doesn’t make you want to immediately make out with somebody – anybody at all – you probably have a heart of ash and gravel. Mamasita indeed!
One of the more memorable tracks on the album is “57 Disco,” a straight ahead sonic rocket that in 2 minutes and 52 seconds manages to smash all the windows, spray paint all the brick walls, and break all the bottles. The vocals here are at their most Joan Jett, the guitars are at their most Rick Nielsen.
This is a band that has seen their share of ups and downs, as other more percipient observers have documented; but here in KINGSIZED the listener has a perfect example of the good that can come from damning the torpedoes and rocking straight on ahead.
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