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The Negative Nancy’s – Sorry, Not Sorry

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Bands can ride gimmicks and often do. The gimmick, more often than not, masks a dearth or narrowness of substantive musical talent and substitute theatrics or something otherwise unusual in its place. The Negative Nancys, a four piece punk/power pop outfit hailing from the Las Vegas area, are certainly not the first all-female punk, pop, hard rock, whatever configuration to strap on guitars and play power chords. However, the phenomenon is still rare enough that it draws attention. Their debut album Sorry, Not Sorry doesn’t sound like they care and their genders are irrelevant. Instead, they’ve produced a ten song collection that doesn’t sound like it’s coming from any particular point of view, but instead like a tightly fused group of musicians who play as one and write intelligence, first class material capable of entertaining a broad audience.

The opener “Headsick” sets things off with a blaze. The hyperactive guitars are like buzzsaws slicing into the ears and, when the song begins in earnest, the vocals have a manic quality like someone after they’ve fallen over the edge into an outright breakdown. The presentation might strike some as extraordinarily simple, but that’s the point. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and The Negative Nancys accomplish their goals with style and a ruthless lack of self indulgence. The same stylishness informs many other tracks on Sorry, Not Sorry and a glowing example of this is “Cup Cake”. Sarcastic, often biting, humor isn’t ever too far from the band’s songwriting purview and it reaches one of its peaks here. “I Wish Godzilla Was Real”, spiritual descendant of the Blue Oyster Cult classic “Godzilla” at least in title alone, is a supremely clever bit of songwriting with some spot-on punk harmonies sprinkled in for good measure.

The title song has some outstanding bits of whiplashing guitar in the second half and relentless riffing that puts listeners on the canvas and doesn’t let them up. They explode the energetic possibilities of each song with an enviable effortlessness and maintain the challenging paces they set without breaking an apparent sweat. They take on another riff rocker with “Sunny Place” and generate enough raucous attitude to span several albums, but they save a final deliciously crazy surprise for listeners at the end. Their humor comes to life in a way even the earlier “I Wish Godzilla Was Real” doesn’t begin to hint at with the absurd “Vegan Strip Club Riot”. They attack the song with the same manic punk rock fury they bring to the earlier numbers, but putting their best comic foot forward at this point helps propel the ending to a much more memorable level. You couldn’t mistake The Negative Nancys for anyone else. There’s a real individuality on Sorry, Not Sorry captured in decisions like ending the album in the fashion they do. No one else would dare. We are lucky, as fans of punk music and guitar rock in general, to continue getting new music this vital and alive long after the pundits have pronounced this sort of music to be long dead. Funny how things work.

9 out of 10 stars

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Jason Hillenburg