Sugar On Me

As deceptively sweet as the Shirelles, with moments of Shangri-Las-style radical moodiness, the All Girl Summer Fun Band claim "fun" as both the good and the bad. Whatever the circumstances (and many involve dudes), this team of Oregon ladies want to be in it together. They trade complaints, then, like "My boyfriend never shaves, my boyfriend rarely bathes," and share sorrow when singer Jen Sbragia announces, in a sad-trying-to-sound-psyched voice, to the man that got away, "Your hair I won't cut anymore." AGSFB's pop tunes—languid and spazzy by turns—make you wanna join their slumber-partying club, so when things go wrong, you can cry into your nail polish and have pillow fights in your lingerie. "Brooklyn Phone Call"? "Car Trouble"? I'm so there.

In Bubblegum Is the Naked Truth, Kim Cooper writes that the 1969 No. 1 hit "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies "has one of the sexiest moments this side of Tim Buckley" with the line 'Like the summer sunshine, pour your sweetness over me.' " AGSFB are all about that summer sunshine, representing its full range of incarnations, innocent and dirty alike (the records look Archies-like, too: Their first seven-inch, light pink vinyl, sports a cartoon cover of the four-piece). AGSFB strum and harmonize their way through 13 tracks in 27 minutes: some pissy valentines, some broken-heart pick-me-ups, some neat elaborations on the textures of girlfriends having "fun" together. In their one-minute "Theme Song," they innocuously la-la-la their way through the first 30 seconds, chirping that they are the "four best friends that you'd like to call," before breaking into a crescendo of screams. And in my favorite, the fleet, two-verse "Cell Phone"—a piece of telecommunications philosophy not about a "cell" phone at all—the ladies praise the "oldest cell phone in the world," "heavy as a brick with a cord that curls . . . but it's alright when I call my baby," backed by spacey keyboard shimmers and a simple drumbeat. The chorus unfolds, enthusiastically, "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah." In their Archies universe of dates and cars, the AGSFB enjoy a dreamy '50s-'60s teenage aesthetic: Here, bridging a Luddite theme with a sweet affirmation of romantic conversation, the way to reach out to "my baby," I imagine, involves a pink Princess phone.

 
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