Thirteen songs, each one named after a different hipster chick (“Abra,” “Darla,” etc…), could have been a cheesy/dangerous proposition. But on Her, the spunky Philly garage rock quartet the Chimeras energetically instill each song with a separate, vibrant personality and completely avoid the kitsch-novelty factor that the album’s central premise so dangerously courts.
“Colleen” kicks the album off on a high note, with a swarming, psychedelic lead guitar floating above the mix as a druggy-acoustic shamble infuses stream-of-consciousness vocal meanderings (“Chimneys, tree tops, pelicans and planes / spirits, pigeons, beings in space”) with a distinct persona: the ditzy-hippy, heartfelt mess of a beauty. The lightly elegant folk-rocker drifts subtly into sadder territory as the lyrics manage a glimpse behind Colleen’s free spirit façade, describing her in heartbreaking terms as “lonely as smoke.”
The album continues to intertwine these girls’ stories like a collection of short fiction, with our sloppy-heartfelt boys in the band acting as protagonists, washed up in a party they don’t know quite how to navigate. But being out-of-sorts is the perfect state of mind for the Chimeras’ fuzzy love songs. “Abra” tilts a crunchy lead riff, snapping treble-heavy rhythm guitars and roomy drum kit into a callback crush of sixties aesthetics. A swirl of vocal harmonies, comprised of the different members’ unique voices, launches the track into an eventual slow-burn crescendo. “Simone” is a lurching, drunk logic sing-along with the whole band chanting the rhetorical question, “Won’t you ever be my friend?” Detuned guitars and arrhythmic powerchords lend the track a dizzy urgency and when a final pass through the chorus cuts the question in half (“Won’t you ever…”), we know that the answer has become painfully obvious. “Lila” is a slice of happy indie-pop bathed in primary colors and reverb that finds fleeting joy in denial.
While the acoustic blues of album closer “Britney” falls slightly flat after a dozen energetic narratives, the Chimeras pound out some rousing ballads along the way. “Jasmine” is a short, sparkling and tear-streaked ditty (that provides a lilting introduction to the meatier “Simone”) and “Gladys” dreamily rises on steamy eBow licks toward giggly, first-love heights. Her provides a healthy dose of story within each song, delivering thirteen girls you definitely want to hang with.
Favorite Track: “Colleen”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.