Scramble, the 2009 album by Atlanta’s all-woman art-punk gang The Coathangers, lives up to its title. But the band’s shambolic splay of sounds has been corralled and concentrated on its third full-length, Larceny & Old Lace. All the same elements are in place: no-wave slash, riot-grrrl grit, and the occasional dollop of girl-group pop. But where the band’s previous output strove hard to avoid self-seriousness, that sense of humor has been supplanted by a venomous intensity. And it pays off: On “Hurricane,” the instruments click into a disciplined, dance-punk lockstep—and a fit of righteous pique—that announces a harder, darker Coathangers. Still, the melody cuts through, as does the edgy vocal interplay between gravelly gruffness and shrill, impassioned shouts. “Go Away” brings a little pop sweetness to the plate, but it’s more molasses and cough syrup than sugar and spice. There are clues throughout Larceny—especially in the cool, cryptic chants and tooth-drilling guitar of tracks like “Call To Nothing”—that The Coathangers have moved beyond their admittedly thrilling party phase and are now aiming at sitting next to their post-punk heroes, most notably the underappreciated Erase Errata and The Coathangers’ own Georgian predecessor, Pylon. And Larceny & Old Lace is a nervy, bracing step in that direction.
More from The A.V. Club