If you’ve ever listened to anything by Screaming Females, you’ve likely grown accustomed to their relentless, almost aggressive brand of indie punk. The New Jersey trio’s newest EP, Chalk Tape, is incredibly different. In an incredible way. Though surprisingly short (even for an EP), Chalk Tape beautifully showcases musical styles one might not have thought Screaming Females capable of.
To be clear: this is not some deviation that slaps the Females’ post-punk roots in the face. Rather, it complements the hard, intense style that has served the band so well over the years. Chalk Tape contains a couple of tracks that sound like classic Screaming Females, and those songs are great. “Crushing the Kingdom” is one of those songs. It sounds like it might be at home on any of the band’s previous albums.
But the songs that really matter are the ones that aren’t so classic. They are unexpected, creative, and mind-blowing. The opening track of Chalk Tape is a prime example. With harmonizing vocals and a heavy, funky bass, “Sick Bed” is catchy and slightly reminiscent of Cold War Kids. But it’s wonderful. Throughout the EP, Screaming Females flirts with different elements, from the Middle-Eastern influenced “Into the Sun” to the screamy-metal “Wrecking Ball.”
“Poison Arrow” is a true gem on the album, showcasing more of lead singer Marissa Paternoster’s impressive vocal range. The song’s composition is not complex, but it’s simplicity makes it all the more mesmerizing.
My only complaint with this album is that it isn’t long enough. By the end of the closing track, “Green Vapors,” I was legitimately bummed that there wasn’t more. It’s not that the album isn’t satisfying; I could listen to Chalk Tape on repeat for hours. It feels more like when your favorite television show ends with a cliffhanger and you have to wait nine months to find out what happens. You are enthralled but you crave more.
For the Screaming Females newcomer, I can’t think of a better place to start than this EP. Chalk Tape is a nice little sampler of the full range of skill the band puts into its albums. Screaming Females has proven that they have more in their repertoire than they originally let on. If this is a new direction for Screaming Females, I can’t wait to hear their next album.