Nineties riot grll acts like L7 and Bikini Kill may have fallen off the cultural radar but their sound and attitude is encapsulated in the most recent long player from Oklahoma group Skating Polly. They are a band that come with ringing endorsements from fellow Oklahomans Wayne Coyne and Kliph Sturlock (who also remixed their Lost in Wonderfuls album), of The Flaming Lips.
Things get off to a flying start with opening track, Classless Act. It’s an irresistible slice of pop punk with unshowy but intriguing guitar work, and oodles of confidence in its songwriting and vocals. Unfortunately, the next two tracks are lackluster in comparison and seem to squander the momentum built up by a killer first song.
Thankfully the following tracks, the catchy Queen For Day (featuring a guest vocal from Californian punk icon Excene Cervenka) and They’re Cheap, help to make up for an early slump. They also serve to demonstrate that this dust bowl trio of step brother and sisters are much more convincing in their punkier moments. Elli Mayo’s raw and energetic vocals are a huge asset, pitched somewhere between Tanya Donnelly, Kim Deal and Donita Sparks.
Skating Polly are clearly all about simplicity in songwriting and execution. In most cases this works to their advantage, like with low key but pretty ballad Flatwound Strings. Occasionally though I find myself wishing that there was a little more meat on the guitar parts and a little bit more variety in the song arrangements. Having said that, Don’t Leave Me Gravity, with its piano backing is a nice change of pace and closes a slightly patchy collection, punctuated by brilliance.
The Make It All Show comes out today via El Camino Media. Skating Polly perform in Glasgow’s Broadcast on 15th Sept.