Anti-Hero – Unpretty

I liked Scratching Post. There was an unpretty Canadian rock band, one that had no interest in being tasteful or clever. It was good grungy metal-punk sludge with crazed shrieking vocals. I only wish that Anti-Hero had the courage to deserve the adjective that is their album’s title. It is good to see vocalists and songwriters Rose Perry and Jesse Tomes dismantle the beauty myth in songs like Unpretty and Lost (On the Outside). But there are ways to refuse the seductions of socially-approved glamour without being self-lacerating. Too many of the songs on Unpretty give into the kind of maudlin self-pity that the punky-grungy-metally music should obviate. Wake Me Up has an asymmetric heavy metal lurch that shakes the band out of its Nirvana fixation and puts them into Soundgarden territory. Lost on the Outside begins with a discordant arpeggio that bleeds into feedback at its conclusion, a nice break from the power chords that characterize the guitar work on most of the album. Perry and Tomes have powerful voices but their harmonies are too sweet for this and other songs on the album. Why couldn’t they use their voices to stretch the bounds of harmony in the way that Tomes’ guitar does? Anti-Hero need to become less pretty if, as they claim, they want to re-launch grungy rock and take down the saccharine pop that dominates Canadian airwaves. Cutesy pop punks like Sum 41 and Simple Plan deserve to be put on their guard as badly as do faux-rebels like Avril Lavigne. Anti-Hero need to become more unpretty to accomplish that task. (Erik Weisengruber)

CD, HER Records, 553 Adelaide St. N. Suite 3B, London, ON, N6B 3J6, www.anti-hero.ca

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