Review: Teenage Cavegirl, Candy Cigarettes
Have you ever had a candy cigarette? Recently? I have, which really surprised me because I actually thought they had been banned for encouraging kids to smoke. Which like, fair. But I was lucky enough to find some that were made out of bubble gum.
The candy cigarette was everything that I was expecting and more. It was adult but not. It really did look like cigarettes, from the packaging to the wrapping to the perfectly shaped little sticks. But it was heavier in my hands, it held more weight than an actual cig. It was sweet in a very familiar, pink bubble-gum mixed with paper type of way. But that sweetness had a hard edge to it. It left a stubborn taste in my mouth, the gum’s way of saying “fuck you I’m still around, and I’m still sweet long after you spit me out.”
Sorry for such a long opening. But I wanted to tell you all of that because it’s what makes Candy Cigarettes such a good name for Teenage Cavegirl’s latest album. The band describes themselves as, “trash-pop bop with a bonehead beat.” It’s raw rockabilly that leans towards skate punk and lo-fi. There's chaos in the album, off-tune vocals and freakishly distorted guitar, that make it clear the band is making this music because they want to fuck around with noise and sound. And they do so in a way that’s incredibly fun to listen to.
Each song sounds like something the heroine from a 90’s teen movie would have listened to while plotting her triumphant revenge. Lead vocalist and drummer L.A. has a great, off-kilter voice that powers through each lyric, similar to someone stomping their way through a crowded party. And L.A. keeps the energy up so high when drumming that I can only imagine how great it is to see them play live. Each beat feels like a challenge to move along with it, so see if you can possibly keep up with the band. This is true on “Sheena is a Trash-Bopper,” where the pace set by the drums is almost militaristic in how fast, steady and intense it’s going.
Guitarist Andy Ray shines on Candy Cigarettes. His playing reminded me a lot of Poison Ivy from the Cramps, which is not a comparison I make lightly. Throughout the album, Ray’s playing has a layer of dirt and grime to it that’s really satisfying. It’s the same sort of satisfaction a little kid gets from drawing on dirty cars and collecting layers of old dust on their finger-tips. The distortion on the guitar riffs in “Rat Fink,” makes the whole song sound a bit like a bad acid trip. He rips through “Leavin’ Here” with a thrumming and urgency that’s viscerally rock’n’roll.
Candy Cigarettes is dark, aggressive, and loud. You can see the strained muscles of the songs, the musical version of one of those muscular anatomy dolls. It hits hard, with lots of rough edges and guttural emotions. But Teenage Cavegirl never loses the bop in their trash-bop. The album never feels too heavy, there’s not a single song you can’t dance to. Teenage Cavegirl keeps their sense of humour and fun prominent in this album.