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Posted on April 16th, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Nick Manai

“If you're in the market for a family-friendly Screaming Females song, this is your chance," said guitarist/vocalist Marissa Paternoster in a recent interview. She’s talking about “Wishing Well,” the third track on the New Jersey trio’s newest album Rose Mountain, and she’s right. For almost the entirety of their career Screaming Females have been unleashing the kind of heavy, assaulting guitar theatrics that are supposed to alienate at least a couple of people at the dinner table. Plus, there is some screaming involved.

However, “Wishing Well” isn’t just slower or quieter, the opening guitar riff is positively upbeat, joyous and endlessly catchy. But it doesn't lapse into soppy poetics either. Rather, it lapses into a kind of stasis. A feeling of immovability that feels changeable only through divine intervention, the kind of feeling that makes you want to believe in wishes. “I’m still home when the telephone rings / I’m impartial like a martyr,” Paternoster croons, accentuating “martyr” with a sly grin. However, soon Screaming Females are back to doing what they do best, writing gigantic steam-roller hooks, but this time they keep time with the wistfulness of the subject which claims, “In the next life I’ll be better / I toss dimes in the wishing well / And I’m broke cause you took all of me / My tombstone on a grassy hill / As a matter of fact all my change goes to hell.” It’s a pretty convincing turn of a new page, and Paternoster’s vocals have never sounded more expressive as when she’s accentuating her verses.

Rose Mountain is not, however, a departure. They might not be working with Steve Albini anymore, but his influence is still all over this record. The opening fury of “Ripe” is an easy reminder of why their partnership was forged in the first place, although here there are noticeably more hints of a black-metal influence. In fact, what makes “Ripe” so interesting is the ease with which the band dumps those metal chords, around the 1:55 mark, in favor of something more anxious and skeletal, before filling out the chorus with a return to those fuller chords played almost to a chant.

“Criminal Image” also sparks a similar comparison, and the difference in styles between that thrashing metal-punk and the more nervous vibrations of “Empty Head” and “Wishing Well” is what makes Rose Mountain Screaming Females’ most scattered and roving collection to date, able to bridge a wider divide. Or as Paternoster put it, in reference to “Wishing Well,” “"I vaguely recall my wonderful aunt mentioning that we finally had written a song she liked.”

Track List:

  1. Empty Head
  2. Ripe
  3. Wishing Well
  4. Burning Car
  5. Broken Neck
  6. Rose Mountain
  7. Hopeless
  8. Triumph
  9. It's Not Fair
  10. Criminal Image
Screaming Females - Rose Mountain Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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