Bleached, Welcome The Worms

Bleached, <i>Welcome The Worms</i>

Well, damn. Welcome The Worms, the brand-damn-new full-length from L.A. trio Bleached — two members of which, sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, you might remember from late-2000s band Mika Miko — grabbed tight to my skeptic self from the very first note of “Keep On Keepin’ On” and refused to let go ’til the very end of “Hollywood, We Did It All Wrong,” leaving me grinning and goofy and a little woozy (not a bad thing, in this case).

That first track explodes out in a burst of driving, pulsing rhythms, droney guitars, and vocals that are nicely scuffed-up while staying melodic and catchy, bringing to mind both New Wave and ’60s girl-group pop (the latter especially in the arrangements and dynamics), and it’s pretty fantastic. Who cares if the guitar is riding the same damn note for 95% of the way through the song? With the handclaps, “whoo-woo” backing vocals, stomping drums, and Jennifer Clavin’s Courtney Love-esque voice, the guitar’s just the little bit of icing on top of the whole dang cake.

“Trying To Lose Myself Again” sees the band tearing through similar territory, starting off slow and melancholy but quickly amping up into a full-speed stomper, and then “Sleepwalking” is pretty much straightforward drone-punk-pop (assuming that’s a thing; go with me, here) with nods to Rough Trade-ish post-punk. It’s “Wednesday Night Melody” that really grabs my attention again, though — it’s driving but with these gorgeous, awesome melodies, like a never-before-seen missing link between the leather-jacket sneer of Joan Jett and the ’90s melody bombast of Veruca Salt.

Oh, and there’s also a really intriguing resemblance to now-defunct DC pop-punks The Points; the music Bleached plays is similarly relentless-yet-melodic, a fast-moving blur of just-gritty-enough power chords, one-note drones, and propulsive drums. They prove my point further on the sweetly-snarling “Wasted On You,” but then they throw a curve ball with “Chemical Air,” which is ear-filling, catchy, and seriously ’90s-sounding, practically demanding you yell along (while dancing, obviously).

“Sour Candy” takes us back to the ’60s girl-group sound and fully commits this time ’round, coming off like a revved-up, grimed-up Phil Spector track that is as addictive as the candy in its name, with just enough synths thrown in to give a hint of a shiny-clean Jetsons future we’ll likely never see.

From there, things get a little bit different. “Desolate Town” is alternately beautiful and spacerock-sounding and drenched in down-in-the-dirt menace, and then “I’m All Over The Place (Mystic Mama)” gets bouncy and funky, with what I think are timbales (maybe?) lurking in the background. And then closer “Hollywood, We Did It All Wrong” is sweet and warm and full of regret, a far cry from the snarl of the earlier tracks.

Taken as a whole, Welcome The Worms is like what might’ve happened if The Shangri-Las survived the ’60s intact, discovered punk and New Wave and then indie-rock after that, and melded together all of it into one glossy (but still kinda dirty), rough-around-the-edges, amazing thing that sounds really like nobody else. That’s a high mark to hit, but the ladies of Bleached have nailed it, and the result has me lying on the floor in a state of bliss.

(Feature photo by Nicole Anne Robbins.)

[Bleached is playing 4/5/16 at Walter’s, along with No Parents.]
(Dead Oceans -- 1499 W. Second St., Bloomington, IN. 47403;; Bleached --; Bleached (Twitter) --; Bleached (Bandcamp) --; Bleached (Tumblr) --; Bleached (Instagram) --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, April 5th, 2016. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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