The Mystery Girls

Tuesday, August 31; Frederick's Music Lounge

Aug 25, 2004 at 4:00 am
Kids, they grow up so fast these days, with their belly shirts and their "friends with benefits" and their pocket bikes. Take Wisconsin's Mystery Girls. Barely out of their teens, these fresh-faced laddies should be pursuing the hijinks of youth. They should be tipping cows and spinning the bottle and foolishly joining the military. Instead, they've been mastering a garage-rock style twice as old as themselves. Earlier this year, all kindsa scumbags were buzzing about Something in the Water, the Mystery Girls' sophomore record, and with good reason. Most '60s-style bands stay on one side or the other of what might be called the Revolver line: They either bop and twist like a black-and-white beat combo or freak out like full-color psychedelic warriors. But these Girls (all male, of course) keep up that R&B swing even at their heaviest and most somber. Harmonica, tambourine, wah-wah pedals and cranked-up phasers collide like a speeding Alfa Romeo hitting a brick wall, and the twisted, tortured wreckage is just as intriguingly ugly. At its poppiest, their hooky, moody, minor-key songwriting recalls the Yardbirds or a crazier Zombies; on the heavier end, they wander through Led Zeppelin territory. Mod or hippie, amphetamines or acid, moptop or flowing locks: The Mystery Girls pick and choose the best of the past to make the future seem a hell of a lot cooler.