Sick of Sarah

There's a particular type of strong-voiced punky girl-rock, from Joan Jett to Elastica to Letters to Cleo, that has always made this critic a little weak in the knees. Sick of Sarah has been fulfilling that type to a T in the local arena for a couple years now, with big pop hooks powerful enough to make an otherwise somber grown man bounce up and down in his cubicle chair with a big dorky smile plastered to his face. Now, after too long stuck hitting repeat on the few songs that grace SoS's MySpace page, the wait for a full-length album is finally over.

The core of Sick of Sarah's sound is the fine-tuned voice of lead singer Abisha Uhl, who's just as comfortable with the warbled crooning of lost-love lament "Fall" as she is yelling indignantly on the jostling anthem "Mr. Incredible." It's at the ends of phrases that Uhl really makes her mark, purposely letting her air run out before the last word is quite out, or trailing the lyrics off into a soft laugh that embodies that sardonic-cool attitude punky girl-rockers worldwide practice as if it were its own instrument. Wrapped around Uhl's voice are super-catchy arrangements constructed by faithful adherence to the holy mantra of pop: "Thou shalt use only sounds that are fun to listen to." And fun to listen to they are, growly guitars, punchy drums, swelling sing-a-longs and all.

Which isn't to say it's all perfect. Lyrically the album is weak at times, especially the clunkily repetitive chorus line from "Bittersweet": "You know you're crazy and you're not quite sane." And the album's down-tempo songs don't have the staying power of their signature up-tempo tunes. But the low points are few and far between, and blandly pleasant at their worst. And at its best, there's enough strong-voiced punky girl-rock goodness to ensure this critic many more hours of dorkily bouncing in his cubicle chair.

 
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