When listening to “Apocalipstick,” listeners cannot help but wonder if Cherry Glazerr had any inkling as to just how timely its Inauguration Day release would be. The album’s first single “Told You I’d Be with the Guys” is a catchy solidarity anthem with a killer hook about transitioning from a lone wolf to a member of a strong lady pack. The whole album is subdued “riot grrrl,” a little more The Runaways than Bikini Kill. It is a catchy, pop rock album that sometimes gets loud enough to be political punk, but never quite gets that angry.
The album itself is full of heavy guitar, sick synthesizers by Sasami Ashworth — who gets the chance to showcase her French horn skills — clean drumming by Tabor Allen and catchy riffs that signal a total graduation from Cherry Glazerr’s origins as a high school band signed to California indie imprint Burger Records.
Clementine Creevy, vocalist, frontwoman and sole remaining member of Cherry Glazerr’s original lineup, lends her signature femme vocals to the album. From her soft hypnotic crooning on “Nuclear Bomb” to her amped-up shrieks on “Sip O’ Poison,” a fast-paced track about sexual assault, Creevy keeps her vocals high-pitched and unabashedly girly. Maybe Cherry Glazerr is not totally ready to abandon its teenage image, or maybe girl bands simply do not have to get as sonically loud to be heard anymore.
“Apocalipstick” certainly has its fair share of girl power anthems, but not every track is so pointedly about smashing the patriarchy. “Trash People” is a lighter, beachy jam about the grungy artist lifestyle, with Creevy in the chorus singing: “We wear our underpants three days in a row / My room smells like an ashtray.” The song is simultaneously self-deprecating and self-loving; after all, “art is love and love is sloppy.”
“Only Kid on the Block” is the most tangible link to the band’s last release, “Haxel Princess.” The track is reminiscent of the band’s 2014 single “Had Ten Dollaz.” The lyrics, however, sound like they were written from an entirely different place. When Creevy sings about “acting professional, when I’m nothing but a self-conscious child,” her newfound self-awareness as an artist shines through. She does not just write about stepping on toes making music in a male-dominated industry. Instead, she acknowledges her own insecurities about maintaining creative control and asserting her savvy in the industry as a 19-year-old woman.
“Apocalipstick” was produced by Joe Chicarelli, who has also worked with White Stripes, The Shins and The Strokes, and Carlos de la Garza, who has also worked with Bleached, M83, Tegan and Sara. The producers certainly bring their own flavors to the overall sound of the album. If nothing else, the album is chock full of fast, loud rock ‘n’ roll that blurs the line between silly and serious.
Creevy often talks about her undying love of Patti Smith, and you can definitely detect ’70s rock influence across the album. Psychedelic synth, a staple of the Los Angeles garage rock scene, is most apparent in “Moon Dust,” a moderately ominous track about a drug trip. “Lucid Dreams” has a similar sonic quality, with heavy synth and a hypnotic bassline, but with vulnerable lyrics that reflect a reluctant coming-of-age.
“Nuclear Bomb,” the slowest track on the album, is a grunge ballad that sounds like something Courtney Love would sing. Still, the instrumentals on the album sounds far tighter and cleaner than “Haxel Princess” by far, demonstrating the band’s growth and maturation.
The album’s opening of “Instagratification,” a song about the narcissism of modern social media-obsessed society, sums up the band’s attitude best. The album embodies a snarky self-aware childishness embraced by the line: “I’m a hypocrite / At least I know it.” Cherry Glazerr is poised to ascend to indie-rock superstardom. Judging from “Apocalipstick,” the band is almost ready to grow up, but is self-admittedly just not quite there yet.