Review by Kris Smith
Released right in time for lockdown, Typical Girls Volume 5 has proved – along with the Slum Of Legs album (a band included on the first volume) – the most perfect, prodigious purchase of the period.
Emotional Response Recs have produced their five volumes in barely four years and show no sign of slowing down or losing focus; I’m struggling to think of any run of contemporary punk-related compilations to have maintained their level of quality control – and attempts to showcase all-female/female-led groups are rare enough to begin with. From early shots in the dark like 1981’s ‘Making Waves’ and 1990’s ‘Postcards From Paradise’ to more recent projects like those which Riot Grrrl Berlin released online a few years ago, the challenge has changed from one of a lack of licensable material to one of too much material. The compilers of Typical Girls sidestep the latter problem with judicious cherrypicking, an ear for flow and a catholic curatorial taste in subgenre-hopping.
This album features 16 bands, less than half from home country the USA, with over a third of the songs seemingly unavailable elsewhere, and the remainder mostly taken from the EPs or debut albums of relatively new groups. Sounds range from power-pop earworms like Color TV‘s ‘Anybody’s Girl’ to hardcore ear-melters from Drama and Snob, stopping off at all points in between including new wave, post punk, art punk, indie rock, garage and noise pop (and if you find those labels reductive or something, they’re taken from the groups’ own bandcamp pages, ok?)
My initial thoughts on listening to this collection were that I’d found myself in a blissful alternative reality where the major influences on contemporary music were Kleenex/Liliput, Altered Images and Trash Kit, but further inspection reveals even more going on. Australia’s Empat Lima and USA’s Table Sugar and Latitude take that playful pop/new wave approach to post punk but more of a regional moodiness is evidenced on tracks by Quebec’s Helene Barbier (ex-Moss Lime), Tasmania’s Slag Queens and Scotland’s Vital Idles.
There’s brilliantly snotty but tuneful hardcore/punk from Whip and Mr Wrong, the sweet sound of ’77 from UK’s Child’s Pose and Germany’s The Inserts, dreamy noise-pop from Patsy’s Rats and surprisingly-uptempo shoegaze from Spain’s relatively long in the tooth Linda Guilala, a song from their third LP, while Kamala and the Karnivores do several unexpected things in just over two minutes, on a song which like so many on this album leaves me wanting more. (This isn’t the first time I’ve summed up with a variation on ‘it left me wanting more!’ but being a volunteer those do tend to be the records I want to review in the first place.)
Out of sixteen artists on this comp, I’d previously heard only two; since its release I’ve already bought music by two more with several others in sight. As a snapshot/sampler of the breadth of creativity and inspiration out there this record is an unqualified success, and without a doubt an album you’ll find yourself putting on repeat. If you’re new to the series start here, then collect the Typical Girls set; I really can’t recommend them enough.