Following your first listen of Capricorn, the debut LP from Bay Area trio Happy Fangs, do not be alarmed by any sudden urges to don leather jackets, roll pack of cigs up your sleeves or pick fights with the biggest bruiser at the local biker bar. These inexplicable feelings of badassery are a common side-effect after taking an aural hit of the garage-rock stimulant known as Happy Fangs.
Halfway through “Raw Nights”, the album’s opening track, the music halts to silence so vocalist Rebecca Bortman can politely ask, “Excuse me, sir. Do you have a minute to talk about rock-and-roll?” What follows is not so much a polite talk as it is a fiery and compelling thirty-minute oration on the glory of rock: climbing rafters, torching hotel rooms and giving zero fucks. In a modern alternative conversation dominated by synthetic sounds, Happy Fangs forcefully reminds us just how much delightful damage can be inflicted with a kick-drum, a tube amp, and a well-timed scream.
With Capricorn, Bortman (aka Rebecca Gone Bad), guitarist Michael Cobra and drummer Jess Gowrie deliver a rambunctious, high-voltage throwback to anthemic ’90s fem-centric punk. At their lightest, they recall the playfulness of Bratmobile; at their darkest, confident hints of PJ Harvey. But for all the focus around influences, Capricorn feels refreshingly contemporary (which is appropriate for a band known for improvising songs on stage). If Happy Fangs is the Second Coming of Bikini Kill, they’ve returned with the modern pop sensibilities of Sleigh Bells (give “Lone Wolf” a listen), and that should keep them on the radar for a while.
On the track “Contageous”, Bortman sings, “I didn’t work this hard, I didn’t push you so far, to turn back now.” The release of this long-awaited LP may seem a finish line, but Happy Fangs is actually revving its engines for the first time.
Capricorn comes out Tuesday (1/27), is available for pre-order on iTunes, but is available to stream in full here on Nerdist. Give a listen and let us know what you think!