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Album Review

The third full-length by the Charms is a textbook example of why it's not a good idea to jump onto a bandwagon feet first. The Charms' first album, 2002's Charmed, I'm Sure, was a smart, punchy set evenly split between Blondie-style new wave irony and Nuggets-derived garage rock scruff. But the Charms were immediately adopted as scene mascots by Little Steven and his Underground Garage radio show, and the EP So Pretty and second full-length Strange Magic dropped the cerebral cool — and, unfortunately, rockin' Farfisa player and harmony singer Kat Kina — in favor of a toughened-up sound and a more overtly sexualized persona from singer/songwriter Ellie Vee. By the time of Pussycat, on which Vee has largely dropped her original singing voice in favor of a hoarse, shouty style that's far less appealing, the Charms are not much more than an amalgam of garage rock revival clichés, and Vee's lyrics and vocals are reduced to fanboy fantasy-stokers like "Rock and Roll Magazine" and "Dream," with little of the wit and heart of her earlier songs. It worked in the short run — Pussycat was voted 2005's number one album by the listeners of Little Steven's Underground Garage — but this album almost immediately sounded dated and contrived in a way that Charmed, I'm Sure and So Pretty still do not. Interestingly, it seems like the Charms themselves might have been aware of the album's flaws, because three songs — "Talk Is Cheap," "Rock and Roll Magazine," and "Gimme That Shot" — are presented at the album's end in bonus remixes by metal producer Bill Metoyer. Unlike the brittle, compressed mix provided by Toshi Yoshioka (Regina Spektor, the Strokes) on the album's 12 main tracks, these mixes sound considerably less processed and sterile, with more of a live edge that helps ameliorate the fact that the songs themselves still aren't actually up to the band's previous standards. So part of the blame can be placed on a bad choice of mix engineer, but overall, Pussycat shows the Charms as potential victims of their own success.

Customer Reviews

Their best album by far

The Charms turn away from the pop sound they had earlier and put forth a heavier rock sound. Gimme that shot charges hard and the lead vocals have a cool growl to them. Losing my addition shows some great guitar work and is one of their strongest songs. Two other songs stand out, life in movies and dream.

Pussycat, The Charms
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Customer Ratings

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