A couple of years ago, Women released their slightly bizarre eponymous debut, which consists of edgy lo-fi guitar lines, vocals that sound like they're sung through a series of tin cans, out-of-place beats, lost of noisy dissonance, and in general, a very rough sound. And yet, all of these elements combined turned out to be surprisingly appealing. My favorite tracks from it include Cameras, Black Rice, Group Transport Hall, and Shaking Hand. With their new album, they haven't departed from their old sound too much, but they've certainly refined it.
Public Strain still keeps the strangely pleasant dissonance and lo-fi atmosphere, like on Can't You See and Drag Open, but this time the familiar pop-song threads shine through the loud banging and scratchy guitar chords a little more, like on Narrow With the Hall, Penal Colony, Venice Lockjaw, and Eyesore, all of which blow a few of the songs on their debut out of the water. Public Strain also has a few oddly well-fitting moments like Heat Distraction, which is sure to to throw you off with its time signature of 13/8 (which then changes to 10/8 for a little while), and Locust Valley, in which the guitar arpeggios are much too catchy. The song Bells also fits in perfectly with the rest of the album, despite it being 3 and a half minutes of drone. It kind of reminds me of Stars of the Lid, which is a good thing.
There are a few dull moments here, mainly on Untogether and Drag Open, but don't let that stop you from buying Public Strain. If you liked their previous album, then you'll like this even more, unless you find it to not be pretentious or weird enough. Definitely giving this one an 8 out of 10, to add to all the other 8 out of 10 reviews (seriously though, almost everyone who has reviewed this has given it an 8/10).