Mere Women – Old Life

From humble warehoused beginnings in Marrickville, comes Sydney trio Mere Women. For the three-piece, mere is no descriptor for output capabilities. They don’t do simple; rather they bake noisy, hypnotic punk with dashes of goth. Prior to now, the trio has released their single/EP Sun Rising/Waves. A bubbling cauldron of energy, the track had oomph in its stomping kick drums and pouty shouts from vocalist Amy Wilson. In effect, the single was brazen enough to march in and alarm the arrival of an impressionable sound on the scene of Sydney’s DIY community.

Six months later, and an album’s worth of material has been fleshed out in a digital and physical release. At ten tracks long, Old Life clocks at just under 30 minutes and it’s a powerful statement of an album.

Waiting Room is the opening track, and our first taste of vocals from Wilson. Angular, spiky guitar fills out a warbling intro, while an ethereal echo of Wilson floats above the mix. A rattling pulse on the drums builds up intensity, where at the two-minute mark, the pout returns, and Wilson starts to yell. Each phrase is a short, jagged cry, woven between sharp jabs of guitar, smothered in distortion.

TB continues on in a similar fashion, until in a moment of hellish guitar churning, breaks into a joy-ride moment of melodic bliss, led by shoe-gaze infused pedal work and high, shrill vocals. This happens again in Blonde Kid, and sees the group enter satisfyingly hazier territory than ever before.

Songs like Esther, Hoof Foot and Amends have a post-punk, girl-group vibe that harks back to acts like Sleater-Kinney or Huggy Bear. The link lies in Wilson’s vocal range, who easily travels from low, spoken drawl to high, sugar-sweet cry in a single breath. Sometimes there are no distinguishable lyrics, and whether it’s the backing shrieks, or call-and-response type echoes prominent in a few tracks, the sentiment is well established. The pitch in places is less than perfect, yet any slightly off kilter harmonies only add to the charm and gritty personality of each track.

Later tracks like Indians and Bones go darker and deeper, building up chaotic webs of reverb. While Faded plays like a slower love song, gooey from afar with high lullaby croons, nestled amidst low bowed chords.

Old Life is a raw record of unbalanced strengths in perfect arrangement. The slight imperfections are as important as the distinctive and well-crafted melodies themselves.