Manda and the Marbles
James Cagney and Sham 69 might seem like oil and water, but both the venerated actor and the legendary punk group have worked on projects called "Angels With Dirty Faces." Add Manda and the Marbles (above), whose new album is so titled, to that list -- just don't expect any hammy overacting or boys'-club fist-pumping. This Ohio-based outfit's sound is strictly retro, a nearly indistinguishable Xerox of every great female-fronted act of the '80s: Scandal, Joan Jett, Josie Cotton, Missing Persons, the Bangles. But what Manda and the Marbles lack in originality, they more than make up for in hairspray, leg warmers and pop hooks the size of the San Fernando Valley. Angels bursts with dizzying, dynamic anthems that spike and dive like a roller coaster or a sugar high. Singer/bassist Manda Marble channels every ounce of anxious, hormonal adolescence through her songs as she laments spent love and blown bubble gum; beneath the surface, piercing riffs and prickly synthesizers swell and sting like a zit ready to pop. Angels With Dirty Faces may indeed be an apt title for the Marbles' new disc, but it's nothing that a little Clearasil couldn't clean up.
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