Can You Deal
Last April, Bleached hit a nerve with their sophomore release, Welcome The Worms. The album highlighted lead singer Jennifer Clavin’s tumultuous journey for balance through benders in her life after a split. It pitted hollow self-perception with surfy, psychedelic, garage punk. Does that sound like too many adjectives to be true? Well they pulled it off—it was my favorite album in 2016. Worms put them on the road with loads of shows, building an excitement that they took into creating their new EP, Can You Deal. Their goal for the new material was to carry the sharp, acidic energy of their live show into the recording studio.
As lucrative as Worms is, seeing Bleached live pulls out an even bigger sound. Settled between thundering amps, their raw sound slingshots from ear to ear. On Can You Deal, the most successful track at bottling this dynamic is eponymous. Ominous bass lines and ghostly whistling guide you in just before a harmonized set of dreamy “ooo”s and chunky guitars dominate. Twangy notes break the measures and speed breaks loose as you reach the chorus. Brief seconds of a solo drum kick allow the listener to catch their breath before being thrust back down a rabbit hole of raucous rhythms. It’s an exhilarating rush that you get caught up in like taking a dip in the pool from the high dive—crunched nerves and calm share time in your belly.
The next track, “Flipside,” sways mellow rhythms in sun-soaked hooks. Its lyrics are as assured as the track is relaxed, even when hearing, “I’m a basket case no one would embrace.” As it makes way for “Turn To Rage” Bleached step back to some early punk/metal roots with buzzy chords lurking throughout. A cape of doom sweeps over the track with a sludgy guitar solos to create a riveting slice of despair.
“Dear Trouble” finds Clavin urging problems to find a new home after a lifetime of accompaniment by her side. Self-pity consumes the track, “Poor Jennifer, I’ve been crazy all my life.” While the message doesn’t wrap up cleanly like a half hour sitcom, the four-times repeated outro “Dear trouble go away” suggests that confidence will prevail. If you say “Bloody Mary” a few times in the dark to a mirror, a creepy old lady doesn’t emerge to eat your face, but you just feel stronger knowing you confronted the fear. With four tracks of bliss slightly more raw than the previous, the EP wraps up here, a subtle nod to their self-proclaimed heroes of the early SoCal punk scene. If you can indeed deal, their live show is a pure cut approach to enjoying the organic flows and frays, and this EP adds more hooky treats to diversify that set.