Sheer Mag - S/T (Compilation) LP

(Wilsuns Recording Company, 2016)


“On Compilation LP, a remastered suite of their three EPs to date, the Philly gang apply their fury to a thematic swath: by turns personal and political, romantic and righteous. Like any throwback band setting the world to rights with whiskey on its breath, the band requires a magnetic personality for anchorage, of which it has five. Halladay, while rooted in punk, is a born rock star with a soul singer’s defiance: In a soaring note, her wail can crest, tremble suggestively, and suddenly snap, as if to say, “Boy, you couldn’t handle the rest.” Less merciful is lead guitarist Kyle Seely, a prolific and preternatural hook-writer: “Point Breeze” opens with a wild, red-herring riff that quickly flips inside-out; you want to rewind it, like a magic trick, and locate the sleight of hand. Seely composes the songs with his key-jumping bassist and brother, Hart; drummer Ian Dykstra lays hot coals under their feet, his jittery beats primed for a structural collapse. Matt Palmer, the agile rhythm guitarist, often doubles as the band’s firebrand lyricist.

As befits a band that rallies its disenchanted listeners to organize, the result is an all-pistons-firing unit: The 40-minute record hurtles ahead, a swarm of righteous energy; there are abundant pre-choruses, mid-song transitions plugged with errant licks, a hook for every available nook. The awesome catchiness of opener “What You Want,” from their 2015 debut EP, hinges on a cheeky three-note bassline that bobbles innocently, as if lost between verses. Halladay sings of romantic submission—“I can be anything that you want me to be/Lock me up, yeah, you got the key”—but you’d need a Geiger Counter to detect vulnerability in her whiplash vocals. Even when the lyrics turn inward, Halladay’s throaty exhortations advance a subtext of personal liberation.” - Jazz Monroe for Pitchfork