The Juice That's Worth The Squeeze by Cherry PicklesRelease date: October 23, 2020
Label: PNK SLM
Gum chewing garage pop duo Cherry Pickles return with a second album The Juice That’s Worth The Squeeze. If you’ve not met them before, they introduce themselves right off, ‘They Call Us Cherry Pickles’ bringing a bad girl swagger so over the top it’s funny “we’re gonna melt your brain, we’re gonna steal your soul” and so on. As much as you can tell they’re messing about, just amusing themselves, you also know these girls are trouble. So by the time this deliciously fuzzy two minute calling card reaches a satisfyingly crunchy halt I reckon it’s safe to say you probably know if this juice is to your taste or not.
Priscila B plays great unfussy guitar with a couple of basic sounds, Mimi B plays a couple of drums with a Mo Tucker thump, no cymbals. They sing about boys and spaceships and catholic guilt, what else do you want? What else do you really need? Their world is well mapped terrain, marked out by The Shaggs and The Shangri La’s, by The Cramps and all those who sing the songs Lux taught us. A land where Elvis is still the King. You could call it garage minimalism although that feels a little cold. You might say it was charming, (which it is but feels a bit patronising) or barely competent (If you really want to be that guy). If it’s not radically unique it is, importantly, very much stamped with their own personality.
Following Black Mekon’s latest a week or two back this is the second great Birmingham garage record this month coming out on PNK SLM. Kind of their musical big brothers, Black Mekon have helped the Pickles out along the way. ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ is a cover of a Mekon tune that makes more sense in their hands with Priscila wearily dismissing the unwelcome attentions of a loser in a bar over a fighty stop/start beat. She starts conspiratorially telling us about it but her generally friendly vocal takes on a darker edge towards the end. You know she’d cut you.
‘Good Girl Bad Seeds’ picks up the theme of Cherry Pickles as bad girls, a result of Priscila’s fun crushing, mind twisting, Brazilian Catholic roots casting all pleasure as sinful. In truth they’re a mischievous girl gang, good bad not evil. Latest single ‘Things In The Sky’ is a tragic girl group melodrama that turns cosmic, spinning teen infatuation out into the stars. It’s a heady sway with a perfect handclapping beat and yet somehow, no handclaps. Now that’s a damn tragedy right there. In a happier twist ‘Out of This World’ finds Priscila inviting her love to make that leap together. Its sweet, simple guitar line sounds like the fading of summer and the whole thing reminds me of The Pastels in a most agreeable way.
Cherry Pickles invite you in to their wonky hand made universe. It’s an invitation worth accepting to world that gets weirdest on ‘Mopkins’, and I’m not talking about the melodica solo either. Mopkins is the bands silent third member. An enigmatic stuffed toy who appears on stage in a coffin. The song seems to be Mopkins giving Priscila life advice, style tips, and heartfelt acceptance. It’s fun more than creepy. Fun with sublimated catholic juju. A song by a stuffed toy confidant underlines the interior, almost domestic quality they have.
They’re less in the garage than in the bedroom above it, making dreamy lo-fi pop to make each other laugh. If Black Mekon are a scuzzy liquor store, Cherry Pickles are two friends setting up a roadside juice stand. The Juice That’s Worth The Squeeze is the good stuff, pulpy and unfiltered with that sharp edged bite to it.