Since hearing the Latino psychedelia of Sudakistan’s Concrete Djungle back in 2015 I have become an out and out fan of Stockholm label PNKSLM. They have a golden ear for lo-fi, pop, garage, punk and psych on the fringes of mainstream music.
Cherry Pickles are a Birmingham based duo (home to PNKSLM stable mates Black Mekon and Swamp Meat) comprised of Brazilian born Priscila B (vocals and guitar) and Mimi B (drums). This is their first album release for PNKSLM and it’s a glorious mix of 50s influenced boom-boom drums, fuzz guitar and sung/spoken/yelped vocals. There’s something about the limitation of two instruments which makes a band get creative as there’s nowhere to hide and Cherry Pickles’ sound is bigger than the sum of their parts.
The album opens with the brilliantly titled ‘Elvis Exorcist’ where a sparse riff is joined by floor tom and snare under pinning the first of many catchy vocal lines. ‘El Fantasma’ opens like Smokey Robinson‘s ‘Going to a Go-Go’ and ‘Jimmy the Werewolf’ is the slow Nico-esque track that plays like a High School Dance dream sequence. ‘Let’s Be Bad’ emerges from ghostly effects and gives the impression the Homecoming Queen has discovered Punk music and started dressing in black. The opening line is “I used to be a good girl. I used to go to Church about 3 times a day. I used to brush my hair and put cream on my face” and the repeated chorus of “Let’s do it” sits on a bed of horror screams.
‘Rapido’ lives up to its name and the change in speed is also matched in the short (1m 31s”) but sweet ‘We Are Cherry Pickles’ and ‘I Still Miss Lux’. ‘We Are Cherry Pickles’ sets out their manifesto: “We are the only girls who can make you cry, if we ask you to dance just don’t ask why” and “But if we say stop, you’d better do it, you’d better do it”.
‘It Will All End in Tears’ and ‘La Bruxa’ would sit happily in a Shangri-Las set with the sweet major/minor key shifts made dirty by shaky guitar and gritty sounding vocals. ‘Latin Discotheque’ is the penultimate track and bubbles along toward the true standout track on the album ‘Lilly Is A Spy’. This has the drive of Link Ray and the throws down a pounding guitar riff/drum combo that rumbles toward the closing section; a nightmare swell of feedback and shouts of “No, no, no, no, no, no”.
Cherry Pickles Will Harden Your Nipples is the soundtrack to a John Waters film where the pool party scene features Mink Stole and Divine sipping exotic cocktails and talking to David Lynch and Bruce Campbell while Dennis Hopper floats on an inflatable Cadillac inhaling oxygen and Elvira hides in the shade. If you like Cherry Pickles then I would urge you to check out other PNKSLM acts like ShitKid, Arre! Arre!, Mind Rays and Sudakistan. However, one thing I won’t divulge in this review is the state of my nipples after listening.
Review by Paul F Cook