Album review: "Wicked Will"
The two songs that frame the Ettes' fourth album, "Wicked Will," might explain why the trio now calls Nashville home. Supported principally by strummed acoustic guitar, "Teeth" and "The Worst There Is" reveal singer-guitarist Lindsay "Coco" Hames's affinity for rootsy Americana.
But Hames also has an angry side, and such low-key ditties just aren't a sufficient outlet. The other 11 songs crank up the tempo and distortion while Hames delivers her brushoffs and putdowns.
The album was recorded at London's Toe Rag Studio, the shrine to vintage audio gear that was crucial to the White Stripes' throwback style. Hames's guitar barks and grumbles; Jeremy "Jem" Cohen's bass rattles ominously; and Maria "Poni" Silver's drums provide a propulsive thwack. The songs are short but eventful, varied by such classic gambits as the "not-not-not-not-not" hook of the rockabilly-inspired "My Heart."
"I'm not a stupid girl," Hames announces in "You Never Say," which she proves by devising cogent variations on mid-'60s garage rock. Ultimately, though, the band relies less on craft than on fury. The Ettes sound grimily great, but it is Hames's wicked will that pushes its music beyond the retro-rock pack.
--Mark Jenkins, Sept. 2, 2011