Hot damn. When did the Pacific Northwest become such a breeding ground for outstanding retro punk acts? As if the Briefs, the Epoxies, the Spits, the latest incarnation of the River City Rebels, and the Nice Boys (fronted by the sole surviving member of the Exploding Hearts) weren't enough, the region has birthed a new darling in the Clorox Girls.
J'aime Les Filles translates to English as "I like girls," and for the most part, the album's lyrics will tell the same thing, though not by means of the woefully sincere, open-chested hopelessness of today's emo drama queens. Rather, the Clorox Girls' fascination with the female race is something a bit more neurotic, ranging from simple subtleties of "Total Babe" ("When she walks down the street she is a total babe / When she walks down the street she is a total slave / A total babe in every way") to sacrificial love in "Telephone" ("Panic and confusion fill my head / I said I would die for you / So now I'm dead") to obsessive dread in "Straight to My Heart" ("Every morning you are not here / Every night I tremble out of fear / I've got to get right out of here / Because you are my world / You're my atmosphere").
The grainy production on J'aime Les Filles is perfect for the band's `60s pop meets `70s punk sound, and the barely distorted guitar adds a roughness that the slick punk bands of today have lost. "Flowers of Evil" stands high above the rest of the record, with the bright finish of a Fender Rhodes and a vocal melody that will get stuck in your head. However, that's not to say there are any actual snoozers on J'aime Les Filles. "Nothing's Too Deep" jumps out with a near-"My Sharona" bassline and lead singer Justin Maurer frantically chanting "Gliding across outer membrane / Dreaming of Mao and King Hussein / Chewing her lip she'll never be the same / Brushing her hair with the radio playing."
The all-French "Le Banana Split" is terribly catchy, though the tongue-twisting dialect makes the song more of a whistler than a sing-along. "Stuck in a Hole" channels Buddy Holly through a modified 32 bar pop melody with a minimalist Vibrators rhythm and equally to-the-point bass playing. "Eva Braun" opens with a deep, immersed bassline that breaks into a popping cadence with some of the album's most intriguing lyrics: "His daddy's name was Adolf / His mother's Eva Braun / He was headed for the mortuary / Because he's a saving son / […] / He moved away from New York / Down the Tigris and the Nile / He would greet his humble hosts / With a handshake and a smile."
J'aime Les Filles is a refreshing glimpse at the possibilities of punk rock from the other end of the spectrum: not pushing the envelope towards heavier riffs, inventive timing, and precision musicianship, but bringing punk's attitude and energy to the timeless sounds of early rock and roll classics. Neither the most innovative nor technical music you will ever hear, the superb songwriting and memorable style of the Clorox Girls is still sure to turn more than a few heads.