There are not many bands who have the guts, charm and sheer moxie to write their own theme song (The Monkees, Prince and Public Image spring to mind) but Cherry Pickles burst open The Juice That’s Worth The Squeeze with ‘They Call Us Cherry Pickles’. It’s like a slap from the ‘Orangeman’ (star of the banned 1980’s Tango advert) and is so full on from the get-go I thought it had started half-way through. But when your album is a whip-cracking 28 minutes it’s no surprise you don’t waste any time.
Cherry Pickles are the ‘dupla dinamica’ of Brazilian-born Priscila B on guitar and vocals and Mimi B on drums, Queens of fuzz and floor tom with a razor-sharp wit that’s fresh from the whetstone. It’s hard enough for a 3-person band to sound fully formed but Cherry Pickles jam so much goodness into their sound it makes you wonder why most bands bother with so many members. This is their second full album release since early 2019’s equally brilliant Cherry Pickles Will Harden Your Nipples of which I said it’s “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”
On The Juice That’s Worth The Squeeze we have 12 lo-fi musical slices that cut deep at the same time as they cauterise the wound, and their ability to sound modern and retro at the same time is spell-binding. They can hot-rod on tracks like ‘Blackhole’, which sounds like someone gave a cocktail of pills and vodka to the Bangles just before they performed ‘Going Down to Liverpool’ or give us a drunken-waltz on the edge of cliff like ‘My UFO’. They can be lascivious and snake-like on tracks ‘Little Black Book’ or smack down sleazebag men on ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ (which should be paired with Deap Vally’s ‘Smile More’ on a #metoo playlist) and includes the lines “Sometimes these assholes need to be told. Could I? Would I? Take a fucking hint son. Don’t waste my time, don’t push your luck. I’m not that girl, you should give up”. ‘Laura’ is the Thunderbirds theme on nitrous, ‘Out Of This World’ is ‘The Young Ones’ on downers and ‘Things In The Sky’ filters the Shangri-Las through a sandpaper séance.
To say Cherry Pickles are just drums, guitar and vocals is like saying the Eiffel Tower is just a pile of rivetted steel. Are they raw? Hell, yes! They are right on the cusp of where pleasure meets pain and that is one of their huge strengths, but even though the guitar treble is dialled up to maximum and there is a trail of distortion pedals in their wake, there is honey in the gravel. There is nothing arch or fabricated about Cherry Pickles and like many of their PNKSLM label mates they create joy at the subatomic level. It’s as if PNKSLM are smashing bands onto vinyl like the Large Hadron Collider of music labels. In the words of my favourite Shangri-La’s song “You’d best believe I’m in love, L-U-V”.
Review by Paul F Cook