The eponymous debut from Alberta-based, lo-fi rockers Women is one in a recent slew of excellent releases from a handful of seemingly-out-of-nowhere new artists. Recorded in the basement of labelmate Chad VanGaalen using what are described as “ghettoblasters and old tape machines”, the production of the record is especially important. At times it’s almost suffocating, as layers of compressed sound, tape hiss, static, and feedback descend upon you all at once, while at other moments it feels exceptionally spacious… like you can hear the very room it was recorded in. Amidst this clutter, Women take jangly guitars, chaotic noise, droning ambience, and a kind of weirdo 60s-pop sensibility and pack them all into this oddly-paced opus.
Of particular note is “Black Rice”. Simple, catchy, and strange, this track could be called an accessible gem compared to much of the rest of the album. Vocals meander and echo through the swell and swirl of the music, detailing vaguely psychedelic imagery with hints of falsetto and subtly hypnotic melodies. I can’t help but feel that there’s something here that says “Animal Collective“, but it seems to be buried beneath a myriad of other elements and influences. Maybe it’s the casual waves of psychedelia or the bending vocal melodies, or maybe it’s the fact that the last lyric I can recall being about rice was found in AC’s “Peacebone”: “The other side of takeout is mildew on rice” (black rice indeed). And that’s part of the beauty of this record, really. Women are able to integrate a diverse range of influences without becoming a sum of them. Rather, they’ve adopted and coalesced them as a loose framework for their own prevailing ideas and, in turn, have crafted a damn fine record (… I’ve been watching a lot of Twin Peaks).