Lunch Lady are a four-piece post-punk band plucked by Upset The Rhythm from the Los Angeles DIY scene. Fronted by Rachel Birke, whose vocal stylings sit somewhere in the space between Kim Gordon, Lydia Lunch and Karen O, Lunch Lady sound like they could have existed at any time within the last 40 years. ‘Angel’ is their debut album, released via Upset The Rhythm.
With a predilection for British 80s sounding phaser and delay effects on the guitar and bass, and great hooks to match, they create a restless mood from the start. Title track Angel kicks off the album in style with ghostly stop start guitar stabs by Juan Velasquez, motoric drumming by Robert Wolfe and a driving melodic bassline from Victor Herrera.
The simple rhythmic shifts from Velasquez give the song great depth in the chorus.
Birke’s simple vocal melody gives direction to the tight choppy post punk stomp of Sweet One and Window, which could be dance floor fillers.
Sister, with its lolloping guitar and bass parts is tied together by Wolfe’s disco drumming, before another fantastic vocal melody in the chorus that to these ears is an awful lot like Mamma Mia by Abba, repurposed for punks. Whether accidental or a knowing nod, it works.
Snakes begins with a slick and purposeful drumbeat, the guitar and bass meander and judder over the top, before sliding into another disco beat while Birke’s vocals drift through the song, dreamlike.
It feels like the result of a few jam grooves tied together, in a similar vein to the excellent Dry Cleaning, without the deadpan delivery.
My Dead Dog provides perhaps the most dramatic shift. There are two clear sections – the first is nervous and tightly wound like a spring being coiled, building up tension before the second part, an expansive release into slacker rock with a Lou Barlow style bassline. Pardon Me Miss is disco grunge, almost like a sped up Nirvana or Hole, Wolfe’s drums akin to a keyboard beat on full tempo, Birke’s drawl like Courtney Love without the snarl.
The pace continues on Dolores, which offers up some really surfy guitar, absolutely soaked in reverb to the point it seems almost as if the dry signal was completely taken out. The rumbling bassline complements this really well. Lyrically it’s the darkest song on the record, yet “They say he’d kill me in a heartbeat” is delivered in such gloriously blasé fashion. Just as we begin to feel breathless, Lunch Lady throw in the absolutely stunning Preacher Man, swapping the drums for a string section and hinting that there is a lot more to this band than they first let on. What better way to follow this than with a warped segue into the dirtiest and most aggressive track on the album (Young Bride) and a short instrumental (Dream Date).
Despite the drama created by the band throughout, Birke’s dry, matter of fact delivery is a satisfying foil.
With another singer they could have sounded quite aggressive. As the second half of the album allows for more variety in their approach it will be interesting to see how Lunch Lady develop from here. ‘Angel’ is out now via Upset The Rhythm.
You may enjoy this if you like: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch, Les Savy Fav, The Vaselines, Dry Cleaning, POZI, Molar
Buy ‘Angel’ LP: http://upsettherhythm.bigcartel.com/product/lunch-lady-angel-lp-cd-pre-order-1