Party ‘Til It’s Dark LP (Reissue)
(Surfin’ Ki’ Records/Mom’s Basement Records)
Sure, this vinyl reissue of Party ‘Til It’s Dark – The Lorrainas’ first and only full-length studio album – may seek to re-introduce material which is now seventeen years old, but anyone who hears it will excitedly admit that the music sounds one hundred per cent fresh; after the rush of endorphins which come with the music initially begin to fade. The reason for that is simple: to this day, Party ‘Til It’s Dark balances equal amounts of innocence and impurity in its street-y pop punk mix, and the results are both adorable and intoxicating. From its first note to its last, Party ‘Til It’s Dark plays as tight as the best efforts that The Runaways were capable of creating, while also implying an undeniable impurity akin to what The Go-Gos were capable of at their most coked out. By the end, those who run front-to-back with the album will find that all they really want to do is do it all over again.
From the moment needle catches groove and “Peroxide Suicide” opens the A-side of the album, anyone listening will know that The Lorrainas are onto something as, between Pete Lorimer’s galloping drums and Kerry Wade’s dimly lit but propulsive bass, guitarists Lisa Johnston and Becky Thacker trade searing parts between each other. It feels really good right away, and then singer Lasha Laskowski counts the song in and everything snaps into focus; after the count, all the players form up around their singer in perfect – and perfectly solid – alignment. Buzzsaw guitars (which appear with just a hint of corrosion on their blades) cut roughly and lines like “She didn’t get her way/ She didn’t get the boy/ She looked over the city/For something to destroy” roughhouse along beautifully. Certainly without meaning to, The Lorrainas let their obvious influences combine with a sense of urgency and present a truly unique synthesis which plays out like a feminine permutation of D.O.A.. It’s tough as nails and sharp as glass, but has some pink accents where most bands would choose to highlight with black. The result is a hook the size of a fisherman’s gaffe – sharp and shiny enough that those who hear it will line up for a chance to get dragged along by it.
After listeners are happily pulled through “Peroxide Suicide,” The Lorrainas offer them some cake with “Kiss My Ass” (which improves on the loud-fast dynamic that most punks rely on by dumping in so much sugar that it’s both sweet and fast) before leaning on the “more cowbell” aesthetic which powers “Nymphomercials” and then finally pausing for a moment to recharge the cylinders with “Love, Sex, Terror.” There, those aforementioned buzzsaw guitars which dominated the play to this pointpause and let a deep, slithering bass tone take the foreground, while Laskowski lays up too and just seethes her way through lines about domination (but don’t worry, listeners, the singer reassures us that she, “won’t break you”) and effortlessly keeping control. For her part, Laskowski owns and overtly enjoys the sudden shift in tone represented by “Love, Sex, Terror,” and really keeps listeners close to her throughout; so much so that when the tone shifts and starts a focus on Johnny Thunders through the cut which follows it, listeners will find they have to wait for their eyes to refocus. There is no weak spot to be found here which would facilitate that, but the band has done so well to this point that they actually have to hold on to let listeners catch up, and they do.
After they’ve had a chance to adjust, will find that they still need a second to connect as the incredibly playful spirit of “Superman Garbageman” takes hold of them. There, between what can only be called “standard” (in this context) scruffy guitars and song dynamics which feel like they might have been cribbed out of the Eighties L.A. punk scene, Lasha squares up and unloads a genuinely great slab of of punk rock lyricism (check out lines like, “I’m a dancer-romancer” .. followed by something which sounds like “Hands in your pants,” but lyrics are hard to make out and they aren’t included with this reissue) which can have any punk pogoing – even in their living rooms. The performance is absolutely spectacular – truly second to none, even seventeen years later – and then “Tricky” closes out the side with one more stellar chunk of Noo Yawk-esque energy powered with Hamilton anger. That end really does drive home the band’s focus; The Lorrainas prove that they have the drive and the fury to stick in listeners’ minds, and that combination is what will have listeners ready to flip the album over and hopes of keeping the energy up.
Almost to prove they have more than enough energy to pull off a second side, The Lorrainas lift the rhythm from The Surfaris’ “Wipeout” and pair it with enough carnal knowledge to choke a horse in a cover of the Launderettes’ “Jump Your Bones.” There, Laskowski really is the standout as she doesn’t bother to veil her intentions (see lines like, “Hey boy, you’re so fine/ How I wish that you were mine/ I wanna lift your shirt/ Roll around in the dirt/ Come on, come on, hey – I wanna jump your bones”) and just lets her lust hang out beautifully for about a minute and a half. After that, The Lorrainas press the same advantage through “Twisted” and another “red hot now” number in the form of “No Strings Attached” (where the female protagonist relishes in one-night stands and breaking all the boys’ hearts), and then really seeking to tease them all some more, rather than solving the problem before playing “Jump Your Bones” again – but with no lyrics, this time, and under a different name (“Rectified”).
Eventually, the turns taken through the B-side get a little more difficult to follow than they were on the A- because each cut just lands so fast and so furiously but, by the time “Japanese Letters” and “Fast Kitties” burn through to close out the running, listeners will have caught up and be right with the band for the climax. Because of that, it will be easy to cheer along as Ramones-y chord changes blast listeners as well as holding them hypnotized, and listeners may find themselves whimpering, “No – so soon?” when the side ends. When that does happen, it’ll be hard to know what to do next, honestly; the fourteen cuts which comprise Party ‘Til It’s Dark each have a spark about them from which listeners will be unable to turn away – but, this being a reissue, listeners will know there is no other music to find. That’s pretty heartbreaking, but those who find this reissue of The Lorrainas’ only album will treasure it because it does feel that special and it is that good [Bill Adams]
The vinyl reissue of The Lorrainas’ Party ‘Til It’s Dark is out now. Buy it here, directly from Mom’s Basement Records.