On their latest album release, Clementine Creevy and Cherry Glazerr have made a choice to shed a bit of the bravado for vulnerability, which allows for creative stretches but loses them some of their distinctive bite.
Frontperson Creevy uses these ten songs to explore potent and universal themes of isolation, loneliness, and self-hatred in often raw and effective ways, but that shedding of some of the bombastic production of earlier, perhaps more tongue-in-cheek or raucous songs, leaves a lot of these tracks feeling less powerful than one would hope.
There are a few bright spots, where Cherry Glazerr’s desire to stretch themselves sonically and creatively pay off in interesting new rhythms for the band. “Daddi” contains some of the expected satirical sting of their previous albums, with Creevy singing throughout in a mock-sexy, infantile breathy voice as she asks “Daddi” what she should do. The music is subdued, but fast-paced in an anxious way, to mirror the feelings of the character that treats every man like an authoritative father figure she must be subservient to. The chilly groove of that song is a change from the band’s usual guitar-centric rock, and they do it well. Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t feel like as much of a stretch, often just volleying between the two poles of “subdued mood groove” and “heavy rock.” There are a lot of songs that try to balance the two, but which come out feeling a bit muddled instead.
“Self Explained,” a slinky song about not wanting others to know “how much time I spend alone” succeeds in replicating the fresh “Daddi” sound, while “Stupid Fish” succeeds at the opposite pole, letting Creevy unleash out some slight psychedelic, heavy vocals over some intense guitar rock. “Isolation” comes closest to balancing the two poles well, with Creevy’s light vocals floating through the song as it rides the “loud/quiet/loud” hill up and down to largely effective results. Early tracks “Wasted Nun” and “Ohio” are also worth checking out, even as I wished the band added something extra to each song to turn them into something beyond just-good rockers.
“Stupid Fish” could have been a great album ender, with its scorching apex and quick fade-out, but “Distressor” instead is the one to come after it. “Distressor” is good enough, though, even if its heaviness pales a bit after direct comparison with “Stupid Fish.” But the song brings together a lot of the themes of earlier tracks, with Creevy singing about her isolation (“I don’t see nobody, anybody for three days/ I wanna be alone/ The jarring silence helps me see/ shut out the noise so I can just be”) and asking to “just be” up until the abrupt ending of the song, without a fade-out. It’s an ending that kind of feels like it’s left you in the lurch, or perhaps kicked you off of a cliff, but it’s one of the more effective moments of the album because it grabs your attention in an unexpected way and genuinely does make you want to listen again, to pay better attention before the ground falls out beneath you once more.
While Stuffed & Ready afford Cherry Glazerr the opportunity to mature and stretch their sound and open up their songwriting in often rewarding ways – the lyrics here are often more interesting separated from their music – the end result is an album that leaves you wanting. The exploration of maturity and vulnerability is respectable, but it does end up removing some of the enjoyable snark and sway that their best songs can carry.
Stuffed & Ready is a fine album, but ultimately disappoints in creating a significant enough change in sound to make it stand out from the crowd, while simultaneously moving far enough away from their old work to feel just strange and new enough to old listeners; for better and for worse.