Tulsa seems to be a bit of an underground hotbed of feminist talent. From blog-recommended Vagittarius to the slew of bands to come from the Daddyo’s camp, there is a growing crop of strong-minded young women starting to take ownership of a city scene that tends to give preferential treatment to folky/bluesy man rock.
A significant part of this movement is Girls Club, a fiery four-piece affair that is decidedly not folky/bluesy man rock. With drums, synth, and two basses, the band’s lineup of two gals and two guys blur the lines between garage rock, punk, and synthpop. The group calls it “fuzz bass and sparkles.”
On Girls Club’s latest EP, Polyglamorous, that “sparkles” element really shines through. This is often due to colorful and adventurous synth parts, especially when compared to the band’s more sparse 2016 debut, which veered much harder on the “fuzz bass” side of that descriptor.
There’s more to that bright, fun characteristic than just one prevalent instrument, though. Sometimes it’s subtle, as in “Jawbreaker”, which has shouty vocals and killer bass riffs but still slips in some jangly tambourine. Other times, it’s in the format itself, as in the disco rhythm section on “Regret & Sweat”.
For all of its diamond-in-the-rough dazzles, Polyglamorous makes sure to maintain an edge. Out of the gate, the album expresses a preference for “leather and chains” over “ruffles and lace” on the opening line to “Ruff Girlz”. Cuts like back-off anthem “Not Me” are full of lyrical defiance in a similar but more pronounced vein. Most of the album depends on crunchy bass distortion and sweaty drums to anchor it in a rough-and-tumble rock sound.
The recordings are done nice and dirty, eschewing click tracks and letting the seams shows at moments like the end of “Regret & Sweat”, where one can hear guitar pedals clicking off. In a band with one or more electric guitars, this could quickly get noisy and hard to navigate. With all of the distorted guitar sounds limited to single notes in a bass range, though, the vocals always come through clearly.
For the most part, Girls Club gravitates to either a shouted, almost conversational delivery or a straightforward singing voice. The latter certainly shows some natural ability, though sometimes its sweet vibrato seems a bit at odds with the power rock instrumentation. Sweetness certainly has its place, but it’s not always given it in Polyglamorous.
The EP is full of great sounds, styles, and attitudes, but what ultimately makes it such an engaging listen is how many of those it wears across the tracklist without losing a core sense of identity. Lots of punky records fall into the trap of sounding too similar from track to track, but Girls Club have taken great strides since its last album in mixing things up. Every cut has its own personality but still belongs to the group.
The band also gets innovative with a few truly inspired moments, like the synth line at the back end of “Jawbreaker”, the gender-bender dialogue in a skit on “Working Class Queer”, and even little touches like the harmonics on “Ruff Girlz”
Epic closer “Animal” finishes off the album with over seven minutes of chugging, synth-led rock, and it stays interesting by continuing to build for its entire length. While easily the most repetitive track on the album, it is also the one most like a composition and less like a song. There is a chorus that comes in for a few rounds, but ultimately, “Animal” is more about an experience, and a rather heightened one at that. As the concept of the track becomes apparent, the repetitions actually make more sense, especially as its nonverbal third leg kicks into gear. It’s a really special, memorable way of ending the album.
There is a hidden track, though. It isn’t much—it’s just a voicemail congratulating the band–but for some reason it shows up on streaming platforms as an eighth track. As a hidden track, its merit could be debated, but as an unintentional closer on Spotify, etc., it dampens the power of “Animal”. This is a small detail that won’t affect everyone, though.
Altogether, Polyglamorous is an exceptional EP. A collection of catchy, energetic styles come together to create a vibrant rock experience that serves its title well. It’s clear that a lot of care went into the pacing and arrangements of the tracks, and the songs themselves are a lot of fun without being shallow. These lyrics do stand for something, and often, it intrinsically is the empowerment of women to live unapologetic lives. As the cover art indicates, Girls Club has a voice, and it’s not afraid to use it.
This article was originally written for Cellar Door Music Group (cellardoormusicgroup.com). It is archived here with the publisher’s permission.
aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.