Editors' pick

The Gift

Indie
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Editorial Review

THE GIFT
Album review: "Mostly In Sickness"

As the wheel of musical genres continues to spin and come back to sounds of the recent past, it was only a matter of time before it stopped on grunge. And if other bands treat the murky, angsty genre as well as D.C. trio the Gift, it might soon be time to dig up those old flannel shirts.

The lurching blasts of distorted guitars found throughout “Mostly in Sickness” sound straight from the Pacific Northwest, but the band draws as much influence from punk and riot grrrl. In other words, you won’t find anything resembling the stylized sounds that overtook rock radio in the mid-’90s. Singer-guitarist Beck Levy brings a roaring intensity to each song, abusing her vocal chords but never going overboard with the screaming, trading off gut-wrenching shrills with moody moans.

That notion of balance is one of the strongest aspects of “Mostly in Sickness.” “Corpse Reviver” and “The Very Great Abyss” are punky ragers, while “Quitter” is a sludgy dirge ending with Levy grumbling, “I’d rather be dead than be alone.” On the title track, the Gift manages to make the standard soft-then-loud sound plenty dynamic. The song creeps along quietly — muted guitar, sinister bass and thudding drums — with periodic bursts before a final climactic surge. If it’s not nirvana, at least it’s close.

— David Malitz, June 24, 2011