Coming in, you have to wonder if these girls aren’t simply a less forgettable version of the Hives. They play fast, semisweet rock. Front-thing Maria has that smoldering Blackman sexuality -- very “may fuck like she‘s boneless.” None of these things makes you want to gaze lovingly Sweden-ward. So it comes as something of a surprise that not only do they fucking rock, they don’t just rock. The Hives‘ ringmaster is a brilliant performer, but the strength of his performance is dependent on how well he mimics Mick Jagger, Garage Warrior. Maria’s a demon of an entirely different hell -- the force of her performance is simply the force of herself, and she changes the nature of the band; it doesn‘t matter if it’s the same old loaf of punk -- she‘s iridescent butter. Watching her convulsed by the authority of her own voice, I’m reminded of Corin Tucker before she was mummified by Rock Savior hype. Maria belts it out like she‘s yelling at God in a desert. True, her band don’t have the origami precision of Sleater-Kinney, but they play as if intensity is prophylactic, will preserve them from darkness.
Fast and faster is the only rule, the only comment Maria offers to the oversold crowd, before pulling the pin from the next song. The music is just punked-out glam, and the lyrics wouldn‘t be out of place in any teenager’s Big Thoughts notebook. But Sahara play relentlessly and fearlessly. They strut, they hair-in-face. They snake-charm. They any-verb-covered-with-sequins. They achieve the best approximation of joy I‘ve heard this year.
The Jennie Bomb is the name of the album they’re supporting, and it exposes one more bed they share with the Hives: It lacks their show‘s concussive “fury as a declaration of independence” vibe. It’s smaller than them. It will only make you lonely.
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