The self-titled debut by Iowa City trio Younger nicely balances intricate arrangements with more hooks than a box full of fishing tackle. Many of their songs contain verse-chorus-verse-defying breakdowns and changes, though without sounding busy or proggy, like on the album’s lead track, “Street Rat.” Similarly, “Clash” begins with a lilting guitar riff and rumbling bass line that propels the first two verses before switching gears halfway through—slowing the tempo and descending into a spiral of three-part harmonized, interlocking bah-bah-baaaah vocals.
Younger’s no-nonsense production bolsters the energetic songs played by bassist Amanda Crosby, drummer Sarah Mannix and guitarist Rachel Sauter, each of whom are playing and singing at the top of their game.
Clocking in at an economical 26 minutes and eight songs, Younger brings me back to the glory days of lady-centric groups such as The Breeders and Bikini Kill. On “Franny,” for instance, they reference the latter group’s Riot Grrrl anthem, “Rebel Girl.” “That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighborhood,” Crosby sings on the track, “That girl is the queen of the neighborhood, I wanna be her best friend.”
Another standout song is the uptempo “Trenca,” which features fuzzed-out guitars, layers of vocal harmonies and some badass lyrics delivered by Sauter about drinking beer and getting into a fight.
It would be reductive to call Younger a 1990s revival group—because they bring much more to the table—but the band still taps into the best aspects of that era. “Something was happening in ‘90s music that isn’t happening anywhere in pop culture these days,” my old pal and fellow music journalist Rob Sheffield wrote in his memoir Love Is a Mix Tape, “with women making noise in public ways that seem distant now.” Younger reinvigorates this tradition with barbed lyrics and catchy melodies that leave listeners hitting repeat for another fix.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 176