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Mystery Girls - Something in the Water

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Artist: Mystery Girls

Album: Something in the Water

Label: In the Red

Review date: Jul. 25, 2004

The Mystery Girls know how to build big sound around rudimentary changes. Songs are flourished with dueling wah-wah, digital echo noise, and folky arpeggios. Their retroisms fall later in the '60s than most contemporary garage bands, bordering on metal at some points. But even on the heaviest songs, there's a lightness to the beats that keeps this in line with their moptops and sideburns look. When drugs went mainstream in the late '60s, and the Brit Invasion chart-toppers turned into artistes, bands forgot how to twist. Mystery Girls work from an alternate version of 1969, where naked hippies keep on those mod loafers and go-go boots, and keep dancing as they journey to the center of the mind.

Typically, lyrical wit isn't essential to garage songwriting, but when it's not there, the hole is noticeable. And the Mystery Girls lack in this area. When they shift into total freakout mode – roaring walls of phasers, wah and grinding back beat – the lyrics hardly matter. At their best, the Girls recall '80s English trippers Loop and Spaceman 3

Those moments are in complete contrast to opening and closing numbers, "Autumn Turns to Fall" and "You're So Blue" which have clever hooks, verse-chorus-bridge structure, and an affecting bittersweet mood. Bookended as they are, however, these songs only emphasize the muddied ideas in between.

There's no reason the Mystery Girls can't move in a few directions at once, but they seem to be making sense of their inspirations rather than defining their own sound. Something In the Water hints at a mixture of somber '60s pop and mindblown chaos, more concise and toe-tapping than shoegazer, but more experimental than today's garage revival.

By Ben Donnelly

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