Chicago grind-pop trio the Cell Phones deliver a much-needed jolt of life | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Chicago grind-pop trio the Cell Phones deliver a much-needed jolt of life


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Chicago has no shortage of inventive underground bands that borrow from punk, indie rock, metal, and any other pulse-quickening style to create a deranged, idiosyncratic sound. But no one in town does it quite like the Cell Phones. This three-piece can whip up as much noise as a crash of rhinos—if rhinos had thumbs and the dexterity to pull off tight, supple melodic flourishes on guitar. Bassist Ryan Szeszycki and drummer Justin Purcell flit between burly breakdown grindcore breakdowns and grungy doo-wop with start-stop precision, while powerhouse front woman Lindsey Charles lends the band’s severe sound a playful looseness with her coarse screams and honeyed coos. On their new third full-length, Battery Lower (Don’t Panic), the Cell Phones direct their anger and frustration at trivial pop-culture nonsense and monstrous political malfeasance alike: “Untitled 3 (Ode to Eddie Brock)” takes jabs at the ham-fisted Venom movie, while “53 percent” eviscerates the white women who’ve supported Trump’s patriarchal, misogynistic, and tyrannical administration. The Cell Phones capture the gathering outrage that’s peaked in 2020—they go from zero to blastoff in seconds flat—but they also express love, hope, and seemingly every other emotion in a way that’s downright life affirming. When your days feel bleak and long, Battery Lower can help you recharge to keep fighting.   v

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