Since taking its two-man noise-rock act from the dorms of Lindenwood University to the respected indie label Afternoon Records in late 2011, Volcanoes has bided its time in crafting a sophomore statement. Heavy Hands introduced Jon Ryan and Eric Peters as a frenetically danceable if sonically schizoid pair, adept at melding basement-show abrasiveness with kinetic tempo shifts and spiky pop hooks. Future Sorority Girls of America pushes that energy in a more streamlined direction, both musically and lyrically. Peters, the drummer and singer, deploys stadium-volume beats with quick-wristed tempo shifts, and his vocals are more piercing and dramatic this time out. Ryan's thick, fuzzy bass tone pairs well with the ululating synthesizer patterns that thicken up an already heavy low-end. Their punk efficiency (eleven songs in 30 minutes) leaves little room for a breather, and that fits Volcanoes' style of quick-hit grenades.
The music may recall the shred-heavy pop of Sleigh Bells and the synthy blasts of vintage Dismemberment Plan, but the album's narrative pulls more from Greg Dulli's soured play-by-plays of the battles of the sexes or Tim Kasher's album-length studies in human frailty. In an interview with RFT Music this past April, Peters and Ryan described the conceit behind Future Sorority Girls: Krista, a young college student, navigates the vagaries of campus life, complete with toxic cliques, phony friends and weighty regrets. What insight two post-collegiate dudes can bring to this scenario is anyone's guess, though the story remains mostly sympathetic to its main character despite some broad emotional strokes. Volcanoes sells the story and that occasional rawness, though, on a track like "Out of Our Minds/Out of Our Mouths" in particular, as Peters embodies a litany of ghosts from Krista's past as the music penetrates in simple but near-anthemic bursts. The LP's story neither overwhelms with narrative detail nor scans as particularly compelling, but the energy and controlled mania of the performances are undeniable.