The gravitation toward punk music was always something that struck a personal chord. It captured the isolation and anguish, while maintaining an energetic and productive sound behind the rampaging string mixes and the percussive crashes that would rattle the foundation of music. Stiff Love is one of those bands that can capture the essences of the abrasive qualities that makes punk rock the movement inducing style, but also rely on a familiar sound that takes their newest record, Trouble into a soaring animal of ability.
Perhaps it can be labeled on the rough cut instrumental functionality that Stiff Love adapts to, or maybe the charismatic lovability of four Washington state natives that have punk rock roots in previous bands, The Vitamens or Lowest Priority to name just two. It could also be the reason that the all female group shines through their frontwoman Xtine who delivers on the guitar and vocal performances. Or it could possibly be that Stiff Love rejuvenates a love for the quick and reckless days of music where the rules were arbitrary and unnecessary. “Walk In The Dark” opens in a systematic clash of overwhelming sound as Claudia on the percussion stamps the backing rhythm while Elysa and Dahlia on the strings move into position for the frantic wall that is about to come stomping into frame.
It is the glimmering example of rapid tempo changes on the title-track, “Trouble” that illustrates this rising tension and grindhouse influenced rock n’ roll that flows over Trouble in a friendly gloss. And this is present through most of Trouble as Stiff Love moves in a sweeping formation to cover a large range of sound. Through the concentrated movement, Stiff Love can quickly become the driving force through a steady, almost forceful shove which then leads Stiff Love to a break down in “Trouble” where the desert lick of the guitar can stand out. Even through the abrupt ending, Stiff Love then proceeds into “Up In Your Room” which is the marker for the third act of Trouble.
“I know where you hide your gun,” is what Xtine seems to be shouting as the rest of Stiff Love strums and crashes along in a fury of sound that becomes the theme for Stiff Love’s Trouble. Especially throughout the tracklisting that barely reaches under the ten-minute mark, giving Stiff Love a get-in-and-get-out approach. The band is fantastic in the way their sound coincides within the rough outer limits of punk rock that borders on surf styled rock.
Stiff Love continues to please through Trouble and the band makes interesting turns that make for a successful overall trip that never overstays its welcome and always plans on the unexpected. Stiff Love works well within the four-member limit and tries to manipulate the sound just enough to be original and outstanding in a sea of many fish.