On the fourth album by Hotlanta-natives the Coathangers, the band is out to prove they have nothing to prove. When the band formed in 2006 on some jokey whim, they had little to no musical ability. Since then, this all-girl outfit has been honing their skills and joking their way to becoming a powerful voice in punk, headlining tours and supporting gigs with big ticket names like the Thermals and Black Lips.
Suck My Shirt sounds as grown-up an album as one could expect from the Coathangers. While still being as aggressive and fun as their older releases, there’s a lot more going on sonically and lyrically than in previous albums. They’re still sending the pissed-off messages in songs likeLove Em And Leave Em and the inexplicably cool, surf-rock songShut Up. However, a lot of the songs talk about love and heartbreak in more gentle forms, which is a different approach for a band that has released songs about nestling boobies.Drive, the song that closes out the album, is a perfect example of this revitalized approach. And the lyric style is deliberately simple, effective and honest: “I don’t want to let it show/but it kills me baby/to watch you go/So long, so long/my love.”
Simply put, their sound has organically reached a more developed state. Each song brings something new to the table with few tunes just bleeding together. Most of the songs do come in swinging, but each aim in a different direction. The first song on the album,Follow Me, blasts power cords, asserting the band’s dominance and showcasing the fact that these girls know punk, and aren’t afraid to show it. Towards the end of the trackZombie, the music halts and then explodes with a guitar solo that overpowers the last 30 seconds of the song. Meanwhile, on tracks likeAdderall andI Wait, the sound slinks and builds menacingly. The diversity of sound in the tracks does not, however, make the album seem disjointed. Instead, it keeps the listener on their toes, guessing what will happen next.
As an extension from their their previous album,Larceny & Old Lace, the Coathangers are encapsulating the classic, aggressive punk legacy of artists like the Runaways or Patti Smith. They began as a funny, pissed-off group of girls, but are now seasoned and strapped with enough earned talent to make their music sound as effortlessly dangerous and cool as some of the greats.