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First Play: Sheer Mag, Need to Feel Your Love

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Andrea Warner

If there’s a case to be made for a band making its first full-length album three years into its career, this is it. Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag has released three great EPs since forming in 2014 but its studio debut, Need to Feel Your Love, is a visceral, thrilling, work of art.

Sheer Mag is a rock band with the best kind of punk heart, all scrappy and grimy and ragged, the feelings tearing through from the inside out. Need to Feel Your Love, which drops July 14, isn’t raw, so much as it’s tough, wise, outraged and hopeful. It treats hope as a radical act, not the kind that’s born out of willful ignorance or delusion. On the album’s opener, “Meet Me in the Street,” lead singer Tina Halladay — whose voice is an extraordinary combination of thunder and thorns, velvet and chainlink — wails and scratches over lines like “nothing to do but to keep battling on and on and on!”

The album has its love songs and sex songs, all of which also feel like radical acts since so often bodies and voices like Halladay’s are silenced, made invisible, or desexualized in North America’s thin privilege culture. As a fat woman, I appreciate seeing someone who looks like me in the role of front-person rock god.

But even more importantly, Need to Feel Your Love interrogates so many aspects of the American dream through its arrangements: epic ’70s country-rock guitar riffs tucked inside explosive garage-punk songs; twang-filled surf rock; ’80s-inspired hair metal twisted into rockabilly hues. The music itself is an implicit commentary on the inequity of North America’s foundations, the fallacies on which it was built, and the systemic racial, gender and income inequality today.

Pre-order Sheer Mag’s Need to Feel Your Love here.

Hang out with me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner