Bangs, Sweet Revenge (Kill Rock Stars)

This is why we love rock ‘n’ roll. BANGS are one of the new generation of young bands that are just as informed musically by Aerosmith as they are Minor Threat. BANGS’s songs are short, fast and catchy. They have punk rock attention spans and rock ‘n’ roll hearts. Even guitar solos. The songs are performed with all the energy of a great live show. Sarah and Maggie’s voices never lose their urgency even in their most sing-along moments.

“Train Wreck” may immediately remind some of the Donnas with its opening: “Hey you! / Standing by the jukebox looking so cute.” But the music is deft and energetic and smarter than the Donnas’ Junior Miss glam rock. The guitar and bass lines rock back and forth with dramatic flair filling in for the other. Each part of the song is as catchy as the rest: verse, chorus, and bridge.

“Docudrama” is another clear favorite with its shouts, yells and handclaps. In fact the first four songs are so quick and catchy, that the listener is left breathless. Which would be the cue to take out your lighters for “Undo Everything,” their (acknowledged) power ballad. The song is genuine; there’s not a smirk in sight. The desperate line of “Un-breathe every breath / you ever took before you left” is as gut-wrenching as “Sweet Revenge”s chorus is gut-punching.

The flair of the first four sharp songs and “Undo Everything”s club-sized stadium anthem may overshadow the second half of the album on first listen. But “Telephone Game,” detailing small town gossip, is just as catchy and sharp and even a bit more clever than any of the first four. “Scorpi-Oh” draws on the music of the riotgrrrls that have influenced BANGS but doesn’t attempt to get socio-political. The band really has a knack for writing bridges and middle eights. It’s never a case of “just solo over the verse.” And their bridges add the extra catchy part to the song that any good bridge should do.

A review without a mention of their cover of Cheap Trick’s “Southern Girls” would be incomplete. It’s a perfect example of the band’s rock ‘n’ roll soul and a great wrap-up to a thoroughly entertaining album.