by Mike DaRonco
It’s safe to say that the Hissyfits are a modern-day version of the Shangri-Las: Both are from Brooklyn and both show off a sweet, playful side. But the tough-girl attitude is obvious enough that you’ll want to stay in their good graces. Sure, the Hissyfits don’t have any choreographed dance routines, don’t have any songs about dead biker ex-boyfriends, but if there was ever a remake of the Jack Hill 1970s exploitation “classic,” Switchblade Sisters, Princess, Fon-Lin and P-Girl would definitely be shoo-ins for the lead roles.
Letters From Frank shows a side of angst and frustration in dealing with a relationship that’s slowly going sour. As heard on “Tired”: “Don’t want to talk about it/you never listen anyway/I tried to scream and shout it/but you just looked the other way.” But at the same time, this distress is expressed with a background of sensitive vocals and punky guitar riffs bouncing between the Rondelles, the Chubbies and the Go-Go’s.
The vocal harmony complexities stand out the most throughout Letters From Frank. No indication is made of who sings lead because all three members contribute their own microphone skills. But on tracks such as “Superstar,” “Giant Ants” and “Lock and Load,” it sounds as if everyone is singing a completely different song without any hint of getting lost in the technique.
The Hissyfits don’t have any use for pop gimmicks, for trying to sound like Weezer — not that there’s anything wrong with Weezer — but let’s be honest: The rock world is overrun by bands incorporating nerd glasses and Moog keyboards. Instead, the Hissyfits stand out with more of an aggressive pop-punk sound that gives off the impression that any of these women could drink you under the table.
The Hissyfits perform June 15 with Slumber Party at Magic Stick.
E-mail Mike DaRonco at firstname.lastname@example.org.