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His & Her Vanities

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Album Review

While the arty His & Her Vanities owes a great deal of its canon to post-punkers Devo, the spirited recklessness of the Pixies, and even the pre-punk innovators the Monks (via drummer Sara Winkelman's aggressive and tribal tom-heavy approach to percussion), it would be severely unfair to dub the group as a carbon copy of anything. On its energetic self-titled debut, the group dives right into said thumping drums along with droning keyboard under the stoic, almost robotic vocals of bassist/keyboardist Terrin Riemer and pushes through the entire album with enthusiasm and innovative, contrasting workouts. "52 Pickup" summons sharp and elliptical guitar work, layered intelligently by Ricky Riemer, and catchy vocal tradeoffs between Terrin and Ricky Riemer, while "Back 2 Square 1" forsakes some of the tension for a more summery (a dirty summer, make no mistake) melodic approach, which could easily be plugged into one of the many hipster, feel-good Volkswagen advertisements, provided Volkswagen were looking for a gritty image. At times the fidelity is purposely gross (gro-fi, perhaps?), but His & Her Vanities has the ultimate knack for feeding off this to build layers of clever depth that are slowly unveiled over several listens. Whether or not Madison, WI, has realized what an intriguing group it has in the difficult to pin down His & Her Vanities is a question that begs to be asked; however, one hopes the answer is yes and implores the rest of the world to take a minute to listen to an infectious, fun, and refreshing group that simultaneously stands far out from and somehow fits into the scene of the numerous punk and post-punk revivalist bands that dominated indie culture during the early 2000s.


Formed: 1999 in Madison, WI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Robotic, quirky, and very cute, the endearing sounds of the Wisconsin-based quartet His & Her Vanities mix the tongue-in-cheek preciseness of vintage Devo with the bouncy naivete of indie rock. Coming out of Madison, the band started as a project between Ricky and Terrin Riemer in the cold months of late 1999. Originally meant as a duo, the two decided to expand the lineup and early the following spring they drafted drummer Sara Winkelman into the fold. Playing around the area, they traveled down...
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His & Her Vanities, His & Her Vanities
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