Album Review: Colleen Green – Sock It To Me

[Hardly Art; 2013]

Maybe it’s the fault of the dispensaries, but if you’re not paying too close attention, it may seem like LA’s sole musical export of late is of the irreverent stoner variety. In one giant belch of bong smoke, the city of angels has sent out Wavves and Best Coast (who’ve proven themselves the king and queen of bleary eyed beach punk) alongside skate-punk hedonists FIDLAR amongst others. And by all surface level considerations, Hardly Art signee Colleen Green appears to be of the same strain. Breathy harmonies and blown out sonics collide with her goofy sense of humor (Milo Goes to Compton, anyone?) and predilection for the green stuff (Her twitter handle is @colleengreen420–c’mon), but despite her basic resemblance to her neighbors, these aesthetics tend to manifest themselves in different ways. Green’s world is decidedly removed from the idyllic world of surf, sun, boys, cats, and weed (well except for maybe the boys and the weed). On Sock It To Me, Green’s second effort for Hardly Art, she realizes that life’s a bummer, man, and she’s just trying to get by.

With nothing more than guitar, bass, and drum machines, Green conjures a one woman approximation of Tiger Trap’s take on twee-punk, preening her way through tk cuts of buzzy rave ups all the while intoning all the heavy shit on her mind. And that’s, uh, literally what she does on “Heavy Shit.” If it feels a bit obvious, well, it is. But Green’s commitment to not mincing words is appropriate, admirable even, given the often saccharine nature of her melody making. Even in a line as simple as “Heavy Shit”‘s titular cry she has this way of twisting words around, mangling her often simplistically downer turns of phrase until they function as pure sweet deadpan, disaffected coos amidst a wall of overwhelming distortion.

“You’re So Cool” is pure Best Coast-ian romantic longing, but with a role reversal that gives Green’s track more nuance and sarcastic bite than Cosentino attempts. Green’s opening couplet (“You and me were meant to be/it hurt me when I had to leave”) sets her up as denier and aggressor. Rather than sit at her window and sing paeans to the cool guy that she so dearly misses, Green puts on a faux-mournful mocking of obsession. The intonation of the title at the end of the track sounds downright spellbound and hypnotized, suggesting perhaps that Green’s guy isn’t as cool as she makes him out to be.

Throughout the record that small distinction stands. Green’s bound for Best Coast comparisons for her longing, however depressing, but her longing is so much more ambiguous, and thus more engaging, if only because she never really comes down on a side. Her disaffectedness amidst the wail of fuzzy guitar tracks suggests that there’s something more than the surface level.

But thematic speculation aside Green has managed, more simply to write a compelling collection of guitar pop songs. However unadorned she drives home her twee-indebted melodies through the bite of tracks like “When He Tells Me” and cools things down with the Young Marble Giants-inflected sparseness of “Close To You” and the title track. Hey, sometimes all it takes is being stoned and bummed to make a set of songs as simple and honest as Sock It To Me.