[Album Review] Pink Licorice- Punishments
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Release Date: April 1st, 2016
Label: Independent

You can have as much fun as a kid in a candy store checking out these brightly coloured confections from Pink Licorice. With a bubblegum-pop approach anchored with thudding and deceivingly simple disco/electro/motorik beats, it may be hard to take ‘Punishments’ seriously. The album should not be dismissed so lightly though – there is a lot more going on here.

Yes, the album opens with a pounding dance beat so outrageous that it would make Boney M blush. And, OK, Bella McKee doesn’t make it sound like we’re in for anything too cerebral as she repeatedly coos “I love you”. But just hang on there. “Blue No. 12” is peppered with some trashy glam rock guitar. Then, at around the midpoint of the song, the tempo drops right off and Conor Mack’s voice breaks in. Huh. This is no ordinary neo-disco dance tune.

From there the album bounces gleefully from one style to another; space-surf on “Dorian”, dreamy pysch-pop on “Untouchable Violets”, melodramatic glitter rock on “I Think I’m Falling Out All Over Again”, and so on. It’s cheeky, it’s weird, it’s campy, and it’s madcap fun. In less capable hands something like this might sound silly and embarrassing. Worse yet, it could very well collapse under the weight of its own folly. But McKee and Mack are more than just clever in their self-awareness of the surficial frivolity of their musical platform; they also have a dark edge and a quiet subversiveness that draws the listener in on a deeper and more exciting level.

Pink Licorice are so artful that they have us convinced ‘Punishments’ is a high-concept wolf wrapped in club-music clothing. So convinced, in fact, that when the closing “glam-metal-meets-Broadway” number comes around we are quite willing to overlook its florid extravagance, and instead gush with admiration over its fervid creativity. Maybe we should dance in the aisles and throw toast?