Perpetually ascending underground sensations Screaming Females recently released the curiously-named Ugly. The New Jersey-based trio has blazed quite a trail, with years of touring and four albums under their collective belts.
For their fifth album, the band recorded with legendary indie rock curmudgeon/Bush producer Steve Albini. Albini's participation in projects typically becomes a larger story than it deserves to be; it's been well proven that Albini is a near genius when it comes to music production. In the instance of Ugly, the songs would probably have stood on their own merit recorded on a boom box
Ugly has the same basic ingredients of the Females' previous output- melodic hooks and merciless shredding, but this time round, every element mixes in perfectly. Opening track "It All Means Nothing" is catchy and jammy all in a compact package. "Rotten Apple" is a perfectly obnoxious earworm. "Doom 84" is an extended stoner-rock jam.
The real jewel of the album is the last track, "It's Nice," which has a sentimental mood, and a beautiful string section. It's the only real departure for the band on the album, and it was refreshing to hear, after sitting through a double album.
It's not as if the album is a massive change of character for the band; everything fits in fine with their earlier material. What is different this time is that, in an already impressive discography, they seem to have perfected their formula.