Sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin have a knack for blending tough-girl imagery with sweetness, buzzing guitars and f*ck-all attitude that makes Ride Your Heart
a subtly addictive listen. Whether they’re coming off like the next Runaways (the chugging beer in your garage feel of “Looking for a Fight”) or the next Bangles (the unexpectedly melodic four-chord pop of “Dead in Your Head”), the Clavins play with girl-group image but aren’t beholden to it — there’s certainly little of that in the charging surf-punk of first single “Next Stop.” Even when they play into classic girl-group desperation in “Waiting By the Telephone,” there’s a sense that they’re taking that back — you feel like the Clavins are waiting for their guy to call so they can virtually strangle him with the cord, given the explosive guitars that open the song and how they go into Courtney Love-style demonic harmonies for the “he’s my guy and I won’t let him get away” part. Some of the album’s closing tracks suggest a desire to trade in some of their roots (the Clavins formerly led combustible punks Mika Miko) for more affable, if still scuffed-up pop; if they keep writing songs like “Searching Through the Past,” re-recorded after being released a year ago and still their best song, an enormously replayable lovelorn ode drawing a through-line from Patsy Cline to the Shangri-Las to X, Bleached will be touted as much for their songwriting as their energy. It’s to the Clavins’ credit that they’re able to maintain their underground cool even while clearly trying to write bigger, better songs and become better performers, and it’s impossible not to admire their trajectory on Ride Your Heart.
Cool can’t really compare with singing along to every word of “Searching Through the Past” for the millionth time.