Review: Sick of Sarah – Anthem

Although ‘never trust a book by its cover’ is most often a mantra to live by, Sick for Sarah are a band whose image correlates so exactly with their music you’d be forgiven for casting off this saying with regard to this US band. Consisting of four angry female punk rockers, Sick of Sarah’s sound is also very much along these lines.

Hailing from Minneapolis, after a decade together the fourpiece are self-producing their latest six-track EP, Anthem – a collection of punchy, punky and angst-ridden tunes. They sound like the band that the 90s American grunge scene forgot, while also harking back to the likes of Joan Jett in their make-up, although less so in their music. Although very punk heavy, Sick of Sarah never forget to pay attention to melody, incorporating many pop hooks into their more conventionally rocky music. ‘Bars Full of Strangers’ is the track closest to this description, with the refrain ‘here’s to guitars and bars full of strangers’ giving many pop songs a run for their money. ‘Blind’ and ‘Contagious’ are the angriest offerings, full of chugging guitars and soft-loud dynamics between the verses and the choruses.

However, the problem with Sick of Sarah, is that there are no layers to their music. Each track is a reinvention of the song that has come just before it, meaning this EP is just a variation on a theme, with no stand-out track marking itself out from the rest. If this band want to move forward, they need more diversity across their offerings. At the moment, all six tracks roll merely roll into one tight, angsty, petulant ball, that doesn’t come across as very inspired. They have an edge by being an all-female guitar band, which shouldn’t mark them out but unavoidably does, but they fail to bring anything else that’s new and interesting to the table. Other all-female guitar bands such as Haim put a fresh spin on their take on a classic genre, making their gender inconsequential because their music alone stands them apart from other bands, making them worthy of attention. Sick of Sarah fail to reach this level as their music, although not without merit, doesn’t have much else to it other than being ‘angry girl music’ for angry girls.

Sick of Sarah are a band so fully-formed that at times it seems to be their own worst enemy. Their music is so deeply rooted in the punk scene that is prevents them from experimenting or exploring what else they might be capable of as a band. The Anthem EP is far from offensive, yet looks likely to sink without leaving much of an impression on the listener. If this band want to progress, they need to be prepared to be a little more adventurous and surprise their listeners: go wild.

Tara Hodgson

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