Reviving the ‘60s girl group sound has become a Thing lately, and leading the pack is Bleached. Jessica and Jennifer Clavin, formerly of L.A. punk-scene fame with their band Mika Miko, have a distinctly gritty and aggressively energetic edge.
Ride Your Heart displays the pretty-meets-dirty allure of catchy girl-group melodies paired with surf-punky guitar and pummeling drums. Jennifer's voice hits that sweet spot between lovely coo and surly drawl, occasionally careening off into something more lively. Jessica's drumming makes for a strong driving force that doesn't sit in the same groove for too long, but doesn't run away with itself, either. It's a simple formula that works really well.
Sometimes the simplicity falls flat. “Dreaming Without You” is pretty flat when monotone melodies aren't quite pulled up by hard-charging instrumentation. It's disappointing on an album with songs like “Looking for a Fight,” with its dark and catchy guitar and vocals that really mean it, or “Next Stop,” which has the Clavins sounding like the female Ramones.
That's where Bleached succeeds -- when the sisters inject enough oomph into something as easy as “Get out of my mind, boy / You know I think about you all the time.” Girl-group revival works when it gets faster and nastier, not when it just turns the volume up on the old stuff (see also “Waiting By the Telephone”).
The title track could have sounded a lot mushier, with its extra sludgy guitars and the keys lingering in the background, but there's just enough studio work to keep things clear. It's true for the whole record -- they've captured some live grit without sounding like a mess.
Like the band's peers, Bleached hasn't knocked down any doors. When you're punking-up pretty girl group melodies, though, that's hardly the point. Ride Your Heart is a pretty punch in the face and it doesn't really need to be anything else.