When Cherry Glazerr released their debut, Haxel Princess, in 2014, a common descriptor for the three-piece L.A. band was “cute.” Two-thirds of the members were high schoolers, after all, with most of the jangly, lo-fi rock songs on the album written when lead singer Clementine Creevy was 14. Their name was a funny riff on SoCal public news anchor Chery Glaser's name, and Creevy’s lyrics celebrated grilled cheese and backpacks with Powerpuff Girls patches. Their music, released on the power-pop and garage-rock-loving California label Burger Records, was charming but not particularly groundbreaking, with plenty of echoes of artists like Vivian Girls and Bleached.
Their new record, this month’s Apocalipstick, is certainly not cute. With two new band members in the mix, drummer Tabor Allen and multi-instrumentalist Sasami Ashworth, Cherry Glazerr fill the record with electrifying, slickly produced, ’70s-influenced rock. “I was a lone wolf!” Creevy shrieks over a twisty guitar riff on album opener “Told You I’d Be With the Guys,” sounding like she’s just punched through a wall. Indulgent solos and freaky synthesizers run rampant on the album, as the group lifts their once-twee sound to a higher plane of power pop and psychedelia.
Gone are the simple, noodling arrangements; in come walls of staticky synthesizers, heavy drums, and guitar on songs like “Sip O’ Poison” and “Humble Pro,” calling to mind The Runaways or Cheap Trick. Creevy’s vocals lend the songs a sweet-and-sour versatility throughout, often turning from a falsetto to a shrieky, Andy Partridge–esque bellow. On the trippy “Moon Dust,” which preaches the benefits of finding clarity via “mystical waves,” and “Nurse Ratched,” in which Creevy wails about how wild women can be, she fully inhabits the role of a rock star. On the album’s title track, the band confidently underlines its change in sound, gifting listeners with a two-minute jam session of grungy reverb and throbbing guitars.
Since Haxel Princess, Creevy has matured as a bandleader and a musician (as well as collaborating with Saint Laurent and holding down a part-time role in Amazon’s Transparent). The new album’s sound is that of a band that’s clearly invested in growing beyond the teenage buzz that first stuck to Cherry Glazerr — but it doesn’t mean Creevy’s abandoned all her jokester ways. “We wear our underpants three days in a row,” she sings on “Trash People,” a proud ode to being a sloppy gal. On “Instagratification,” she skewers validation-needy social media users, but not without implicating herself in the act: “I am an offender myself, I’m a hypocrite, at least I know it!” Creevy screeches. If anything, Apocalipstick could have used more moments like these. They let you hear Creevy’s personality and humor as a songwriter in a way that the rest of the album’s vague lyrics about drugs and rock and roll don’t.
With this album, Cherry Glazerr move fully past their origins as a solo project in Creevy’s bedroom and take a more prominent position in L.A.’s contemporary garage-rock scene — even if they’re still taking subtle cues from that same scene’s more established bands, like Thee Oh Sees and King Tuff. While the band still has more style than substance, Apocalipstick succeeds as a spirited sayonara to the cuteness that Cherry Glazerr made their name on.