Albums used to come with a sticker admonishment to “play it loud,” and this might be good advice for BRATS, the impressive eponymous debut released July 25 by a trio composed of sisters Rei and Aya Kuromiya and their friend Hinako. In a way, their music mines the anarchic vibe of Nuggets-era punk, a time when legions of snotty kids grabbed guitars and took aim at the charts, albeit updated with a modern production sheen so clean you can eat off it. The 10-tune disc is a full-throttle assault on the ears, but one that will leave you exhilarated, not exhausted.
Kicking out the jams from the get-go, Pain mixes creamy Marshall crunch, a hint of Farfisa organ and Rei’s powerfully clear, pitch-perfect vocals to make a satisfying souffle of pounding riffs and catchy choruses. Although a deft guitarist, Hinako is not averse to hitting a single note, as on Kaihou Seyo, and riding the feedback curl in the sweet spot of the sonic wave, letting the harmonics spray and spatter as she surfs on and on. Exquisite. The guitar might be the focus, but Aya’s gut-punch bass anchors every song, providing a rich and solid foundation for the fuzzed-out chaos swirling around her.
Big Bad World has the loud and soft dynamics so beloved by Nirvana, and the trick works here, too, as the momentary pullback toward the end of the tune makes the denouement even more impressive when Rei and Hinako let loose. The previously released Nounai Shoukyo Game is another feedback fiesta with a demented keyboard playing tag with the guitar during the verses. Finishing out the album with the To Be Hero anime opener Ainikoiyo, the band brings things to a close with a roar, not a whimper. Play it loud, indeed.