Audio Mixer: Tom Hardisty.
Recording information: Roadknight House, Airey's Inlet (04/21/2012-04/22/2012).
Photographer: Hugh Young.
The phrase pop-punk has come to be accepted as a designation for glossy, over-energetic bands who have mastered Johnny Ramone's ability to downstroke without understanding the first thing about his melodic genius. Which means that some folks will be confused when Woollen Kits has the punk-pop moniker thrown at them, since their music actually has something to do with both punk and pop in equal measure, and succeeds marvelously on both counts. Hailing from Australia, Woollen Kits write simple, forceful tunes that are also deliciously hooky and stick in your ear like chewing gum, and they play them with an aggressive simplicity and a rough texture that makes the finished product sound like the best thing to come out of a garage since the Chevrolet. The easiest way to explain Four Girls, the group's second album, is to imagine Beat Happening learning to play as well as Crime, moving to New Zealand, and falling in with the Flying Nun crowd in the '80s. This scenario gives a reasonable idea of what to expect from Four Girls, but it also makes Woollen Kits appear a lot more derivative than they are; beyond the Kiwi pop undertow of their melodies, this band's similarities to other acts appears to be about coincidence rather than active influence, and there's nothing the least bit calculated about their ferocious energy and the positive joy with which they bash away at their guitars and drums. Leon Applebee and Tom Hardisty bounce chugging guitar and basslines off one another with abandon, Tom Ridgewell's drumming is gloriously primitive but right on the mark, the songs fuse punk rock sneer with girl-crazy pop lyrics, and Four Girls is a rough-hewn gem for every second of its 32 minutes. In a better world, everyone could fuse punk and pop with the spontaneous genius of Woollen Kits, but in 2012, they seem to be doing it better than nearly anyone you might name. ~ Mark Deming