Upset is a happy accident of sorts. After leaving Vivian Girls for Best Coast, drummer Ali Koehler appeared to be kicking ass and taking names. Gliding from one successful band to another, this seemed every bit the power move…until Koehler was kicked out of Best Coast.
But that was actually more of a game changer than a setback. Koehler quickly dusted herself off and combined forces with Jenn Prince (ex-La Sera) and fellow drum maven Patty Schemel from Hole to front Upset. She’s Gone, via New jersey label Don Giovanni, is this ’90s-esque garage-pop trio’s first release. It’s stickily saccharine with spiky edges. Koehler’s almost too-sweet vocals dish up oft-snarky lyrics that interplay nicely with the fuzzy guitar.
Nearly every song is under the three-minute mark and most are bouncingly hook-loaded. The titular track, the second on the album, is particularly earworm-y, saturated with the kind of chant-along energy that could be a blast live. There’s no lack of power chords and “oohs” and “ohs” on this album.
Darker moments add depth to what seems like a mostly spunky romp of an album upon first glance. Oxfords and Wingtips is hazily despondent: “Every drink makes me think of that day/I gave you pills ’till you faded away,” with the eventual admission, “I can’t remember feeling worse than this.” Phone Calls is a similarly shady track that helps break up up the frantic pace.
Cheekily, the final two-minute ditty, You and I, ends with the send-off, “This is goodbye.” Upset is unapologetically confident in its simplicity, and we’re not upset about it if they aren’t.