In the mid 00’s, Wise Girl’s frontwoman Abby Weitz was the vocalist with pop punk band The Lookaways. Although that band never achieved great mainstream success, they performed on the 2006 Vans Warped tour and even played at the legendary CBGBs in New York. On Wise Girl’s 2012 EP, Weitz sounds more settled than before, with a handful of songs replacing most of her previous punk pop traits with a semi-slick power pop groove.
The lead single, ‘Set In Stone’, captures the band’s sound well enough, pitching a tough guitar jangle against a strong pop sensibility. While the chorus isn’t an instant hit, a few plays in and the song shows it to have a strong musical backbone; it’s relative sing-along qualities recall older works by Letters To Cleo and the much overlooked Stretch Princess. On the bouncy ‘Roles are Reversed’, there’s a slightly poppier vibe, one which allows Weitz’s sugary vocal to carry most of the main melody. Wise Girl isn’t just the Abby Weitz show, though – the rest of the band pitch in with good performances. At the track’s end, Chris Fasulo plays a sharp lead guitar part which has a tone that, perhaps, owes as much to country rock as it does to power pop (although the tune stays firmly within a power pop remit) while the rhythm section are also interesting – particularly the tough sounding bass lines occurring throughout.
Adopting a slightly harder sound, the mid-paced ‘Wishful Thinking’ is the best of the EPs three tracks. The wall of rhythm guitars moves away from power pop and has more in common with post-‘Warning’ Green Day. In fact, it has a tone which would fit best with GD’s Foxboro Hot Tubs side project, as – despite the slight distortion throughout – the clanging guitars offer a very 60s vibe. The slower approach allows Weitz to push the crying edge of her voice a little farther, making it her strongest performance here.
A fourth track ‘I’m a Freak’ (streaming via their ReverbNation profile at the time of the EPs release), on the surface, at least, offers more of the same. The chunky rhythm guitars have hints of The Cars and early Weezer, while the hooky chorus makes an instant impression, driving things in a pop-oriented direction. The use of a slight auto-tuning makes it less pleasant listening overall, though, and threatens to spoil an otherwise solid tune. The general mood here should catch the ears of those who still enjoy Avril Lavigne’s earliest output.
With the lurid pink and black artwork and Weitz’s vocal retaining a lot of saccharine shine, this band may be in danger of being written off as a band who may appeal to a slightly younger audience. While that isn’t necessarily wrong, or even a bad thing, such potential feelings shouldn’t detract from the fact they know how to pen a decent tune. ‘Wishful Thinking’ is worth three minutes of your time alone.