The guitar-slinging Valkyrie, lipstick-shaped rocket, and DayGlo colour scheme that adorn the cover of Cherry Glazerr's third LP hearken back to an era in rock music that has become somewhat of a relic. Its cartoonish, feminine fierceness immediately brings to mind the golden age of glam rock - KISS, Alice Cooper, New York Dolls - and the comparison is apt down to the music itself.
It would be a mistake to label Apocalipstick a throwback record, though. Cherry Glazerr come from the vibrant L.A. indie rock scene, and this record, which comes after a lineup change which saw frontwoman Clementine Creevy as the band's sole original member, reads like a refinement of the band's pummelling rock 'n' roll more than an attempt to evoke an era. With drummer Tabor Allen and multi-instrumentalist Sasami Ashworth on board, Cherry Glazerr have crafted a strikingly cohesive and engrossing modern rock record that doubles as a statement of identity.
Like the 1970's bands to whom it is so easy to compare them, Cherry Glazerr have a sense of streetwise danger. The darkly sardonic opener "Told You I'd Be with the Guys" pits angular guitars and a paint-shredding vocal from Creevy against an undertow of trauma. "Trash People" adds endearing flippancy to the formula with its self-effacing lyric, and pulsating, Gary Numan-inspired disco rhythm. The opening trio lead into the record beautifully, with the seismic guitars of the enigmatic "Moon Dust" being the glazed cherry on top.
Like a lot of rock music, Apocalipstick is about big gestures, and it can cause a disconnect when those gestures don't quite translate to the listener. Take, for example, the single "Nurse Ratched," which somehow manages to turn a reference to one of American literature's (and cinema's) most iconic villains and turn it into a catchy but uninspiring jam. The same is true of tracks like the predictable "Humble Pro" and the surf-jam-sans-waves "Sip o' Poison." These tracks are by no means bad, but tend to fade into the background.
But for what the record's songs themselves lack, the band themselves excel as performers. They are a tight and inventive combo, Ashworth's keyboards adding texture and dynamics, and Allen's drumming leading into moments of head nodding rock bliss. Clementine Creevy shows incredible talent as the magnetic core of the group. On the melancholy "Nuclear Bomb," her distinctive voice and muscular guitar leads land in unexpected places as if dodging and weaving like a boxer, a trait that is characteristic of her performance as a whole.
The closing title track truly lives up to its name, guitars and keys pouring like lava over exploding cymbals. The glam rock artists whose legacy Cherry Glazerr have tentatively inherited were known for their gimmicky artifice, but there is none of that here. Cherry Glazerr are warts-and-all-fabulous, assured of their own coolness without having to prove it to anyone, and you had better get used to it or face the Apocalipstick.
Apocalipstick is out now on CD, vinyl and digital formats.