Melkbelly’s juxtaposition of weird and pretty keeps getting more perplexing | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Melkbelly’s juxtaposition of weird and pretty keeps getting more perplexing


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Chicago four-piece Melkbelly are best known for playing what you might call noise pop. Though they employ guitarists with a knack for wiry, minor-key interplay, a drummer who pays homage to Brian Chippendale, and a singer who can flip the switch in an instant from sweet Kim Deal croons to blood-curdling screams, they also inject their songs with as much undeniable melody as harsh dissonance. On the brand-new Pith (Wax Nine), Melkbelly continue their growth in both directions. Their pop side shines brighter than ever thanks to the majestic vocal hooks of guitarist-singer Miranda Winters, so that a casual, surface-level play-through of Pith could persuade you that it’s simply a great indie-pop record. On further listens, though, you can hear the band’s ongoing weirdness—that aspect of their sound has become more sophisticated and subtle, but it’s also more complex and intricate. “Sickeningly Teeth” creates a dizzying juxtaposition by colliding a sad, beautifully sung verse with a rhythm that constantly changes speeds. “LCR” climaxes with a catchy chorus anchored by explosive Lightning Bolt drums. And album centerpiece “Kissing Under Some Bats” starts as an upbeat, danceable number, then gives way to nearly ten minutes of dark, spacey, psychedelic drones. It’s always been exciting to try to make sense of Melkbelly, and with Pith they’ve become even more perplexing.   v

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