When four teenagers (15 and 16 years of age) release an album, the expectations are that it would sound something like Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, or One Republic. Unless you’re The Regrettes. The Los Angeles-based band are not your typical newcomers. They’re inspired by ’50s and ’60s doo-wop, 70s rock ‘n roll, and Gen Y post-punk rock. The Ronettes, Joan Jett, Kate Nash, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peaches, Ty Segall, and King Tuff are just some of their influences. Surely The Regrettes must be older?
But Lydia Night (vocals/guitar), Genessa Gariano (guitar), Sage Chavis (bass), and Maxx Morando (drums) are mature well beyond their years. It’s one thing to list such great artists as idols. It’s another thing to successfully amalgamate their varied sounds into one effort and replicate their expansive songwriting. The Regrettes, though, have done exactly that with their debut album. Feel Your Feelings Fool! is a swashbuckling, entertaining record that covers nearly sixty years of music with many of the songs covering multiple decades.
“A Living Human Girl”, for instance, is part doo-wop and part garage-pop with its catchy, summery melody but gritty undertones. But don’t let the sweet sounds fool you – this track is smart, witty, and edgy. It is the anti-Barbie song that describes the “imperfections” of the average woman. One who has pimples, stretch marks, grease in her hair, and a bra size that may not be ideal according to mainstream media’s depiction. But the most important message taken is that no individual should be ashamed about who they are.
This salute to individuality is heard throughout the album. The amusing but intelligent post-punk number, “Ladylike/WHATTA BITCH”, sees front woman Lydia Night reminisce about her middle school years and the insecurities, cruelty, and two-faced nature of people. But on this quick track, Night essentially tells them all to f*ck off. “Seashore” blends ’60s bubblegum pop with garage-pop and is another big middle finger to anyone who has demeaned and insulted women and girls. The scintillating “Lacy Loo”, meanwhile, is a straight-up ’70s pop-rock number focused on the exploits of a young woman seeking adventure and a purpose.
Not surprisingly, there is a heavy dose of relationship-oriented songs on the album. Unlike other “love songs”, The Regrettes tackle this well-worn topic with humor, grit, and panache, such as on the whimsical “Juicebox Baby” and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs-esque “Head in the Clouds”. The opening track, “I Don’t Like You”, and the bombastic “Hey Now” offer two sides to the love story. The former is the “get-away-from-me” part while the latter is the hopeless dreamer who endlessly desires a way to be with the person of his dreams. Meanwhile, the gnarly “Picture Perfect” tackles the issue from a different perspective, focusing on how people tend to drool over the star athlete or the one girl who “has it all”. It is lust and desire based on pretense than substance.
Although the majority of the 15 songs are upbeat, energetic, and even frenetic numbers, the highlight is the one stark song on the entire album. Not surprisingly, “Pale Skin” is situated right in the heart of Feel Your Feelings Fool! The song is daunting, melodic, and cinematic. The throbbing percussion work and the squealing crystalline guitars elevate the track to its haunting heights. It is also the band’s most introspective song, as Night shares her deepest fears and how the chaos around her is tearing her apart.
I can barely take it, I want to scream, I want to shout.
But there’s nothing coming out.
Skin so pale that faded away.
There’s a bluebird singing and it makes me smile.
“Pale Skin” is just one of the many surprises on the album. Feel Your Feelings Fool! is not merely a fun record, but it is engaging, smart, and thoughtful. Many artists and bands – including successful ones – have yet to make anything close to what The Regrettes have done. To think once again, they are still teenagers. Where will they take us next? Who will they channel? Just how high is their ceiling? With just one LP under the belt, it is safe to say The Regrettes’ potential is limitless.
Featured photo by Jen Rosenstein.
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