Review: Screaming Females — All At Once

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 at 5:10 PM
Review: Screaming Females — All At Once by Hannah McDonald

★★★★☆

With a band name such as Screaming Females, the stunning vocal control of lead singer Marissa Paternoster is surprising. The three piece band’s chemistry and ability to blend genre’s has come a long way. The contrast between Paternoster’s classical and the punk-reminiscent guitar work is highlighted in the band’s newest album, “All at Once,” the trio’s seventh full-length album.

From their indie punk beginnings in New Jersey, through their many successful albums, Screaming Females have come to know what they’re doing musically. They see their unique style, recognize their talent and display it in “All at Once”’s first track, “Glass House.” Paternoster’s vibrato compliments the electric guitar notes. While the guitar, bass, vocals and drums build and come together at the beginning and end of the track, Paternoster’s voice seems to be in competition with the five beat guitar and percussion riffs that fall on the end of her ringing vocal notes.

The middle of the album may be the strongest songs of the entire album. Each has a very different vibe that goes along with them, making for unique juxtaposition.

The sixth track of the 15 song album is a modern funeral march. Lasting only two and a half minutes in total, the traditional 4/4 timing of “Deeply” is moved by the work of drummer Jarrett Dougherty. A love song, “Deeply,” discusses being fully engulfed in another person and a romance. The deep, more monotone vocals sound mournful when paired with the organ-styled keyboard work. The track ends mid-verse leaving one to wonder if the story it tells has closure.

Slightly longer than “Deeper,” “Soft Domination,” has shaken off the heavy, dark clouds of the previous track. “Soft Domination” does not beat around the bush with its message. “I need you to know me so no one else owns me,” Paternoster sings passionately before jumping into the slightly quicker chorus: “Tell me you’ll lift me up, tell me you’ll take me out of this place.”

“End of My Bloodline,” groves in as track eight. Less energetic than “Soft Domination,” the angsty undertones of “Deeply” are now the moving current. Jack White would be proud of the guitar licks at the beginning of the track. The muffled snare drum rhythm fill out the song, making it impossible to not tap one’s foot and move along to.

These three songs are not the only fascinating pairings of the album, nor are they only musically interesting ones. Each piece has it’s own essence. This is an impressive accomplishment as “All at Once” is only 50 minutes long, but manages to squeeze 15 unique songs in.

“All at Once,” is closed out by “Step Outside,” which gives Screaming Female’s instrumental work the main stage. The track is already half over before there are any lyrics — but like the rest of the album — there is enough going on that one doesn’t mind.

Although there are no problems with any individual track, by the end of the album, one is ready to be done with Screaming Females for a while. Paternoster’s voice is almost too different. One can only take too much. This is a problem personally experienced with Pearl Jam as well — another band whose lead has a one-of-a-kind sound. That being said, this is probably the best problem to have, and the fact that Screaming Female’s have maintained their style for this long and are still turning out good work is commendable. 

Stand Out Tracks: "Deeply," "Soft Domination" and "End of My Bloodline"

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Hannah McDonald can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com.

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