In 2012, I’m going to venture in to some new territory with an occasional album review. The catalyst for this review arrived in my inbox on January 5th. Jenn Malzone, of the band Middle Class Fashion, sent me a copy of the band’s upcoming release Girl Talk. As most know, I do my best work in-person, so a quick check of the calendar revealed I would be working my real job on the night of the release party. Damn the luck. Alright, guess I’ll give the album a listen and maybe catch the band on a different night.
From the opening notes of “Lightning Bugs”, I knew this band needed some press. The band was formed in early 2010 by Jenn Malzone (vocals/keyboards) and Brad Vaughn (drums), two bandmates from the St. Louis-based band, Paper Dolls. A third bandmate, from Malzone’s other band Tight Pants Syndrome, Brian McClelland (bass) was acquired to round out this trio. The band’s website describes their sound as “Tegan and Sarah scoring a Tim Burton movie with Danny Elfman. Couldn’t have said it better myself. As I said, the first track, “Lightning Bugs”, caught my attention with its catchy piano line and witty lyrics which explore the possibility of trapping feelings in a jar like lightning bugs. “Powder Blue” follows with an equally attractive piano piece and Malzone’s voice hypnotizes on this number. The third track is a song entitled “My Attack”, which is intended to be a mean song but leaves one with the feel of a 70’s TV show theme-song and overall groovyness. The fun police and 80’s keyboards are summoned for “Fun Whoa”, a song about a good time that was had, but now I’m moving on. The male vocals have a chance to blend with Malzone’s on “Jamie” and the boys do a respectable job.
Next up, the title track “Girl Talk”, which briefly sums up all of the things that girls yak about and all of the emotions involved. “Abomination” has a great mix of a Gilbert and Sullivan piano, Dresden Dolls vocals, and 70’s synthesizer. After the track “Vacation” my second favorite song on this alubm can be found, ” July 31st”. This song has a dark feel which is brought to life through Malzone’s vocals and an eerie-sounding piano score. The tenth and eleventh tracks, “Griffin” and ”Barbarella” respectively, are in a perfect spot on the album as they are a couple of the weaker numbers found on this production. “Sugar Hrt Candy” brings it back to life with the band’s signature pop sound and great opening lyric, “You’re my sugar heart candy/just give me cavities/It’s pretty clear you’re no good for me”. The album comes to a peaceful end with Malzone toning down her vocals for the final two tracks, “Sweet” and “Birthday”. A fair number of three-piece bands, in my opinion, often have holes in their sound but this full length album should be a model for other three-piece bands to follow. With a full, rich sound and a rare playfulness, Middle Class Fashion brings a breath of fresh air to the St. Louis music scene.
The album is set for release on January 14th. The album release and show with Scarlet Tanager and Cassie Morgan + the Lonely Pine will be held at Foam Coffee & Beer. Don't forget to check out (and download for free) their debut EP on their Facebook BandPage.
Contributed by Duane Clawson