Okay, so the story goes, the Ovulators come from the doomed planet Zygote, you see, and they've "condensed their bodies of sound and light into the shape of human females." At least, that's what the press release for their self-titled debut CD says.
In another version of history, they're an all-girl act from Eugene, Oregon, with a knack for a glam-rock hook and plenty of passion in their striking debut. The influences drip from their debut CD — Hole, the New York Dolls, the Pixies, Blondie — but these women are carving their own path. They were voted Eugene's best rock band by the alternative Eugene Weekly newspaper. They were also the house band for a local production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is fitting, as their album feels like that movie soundtrack spliced with a dash of Courtney Love.
The anchors of the band's sound is the powerful, riff-heavy guitar attack of Tina Sarno and Kelani Larsen, who also share vocals. Their singing can sometimes be a little thin, but it's got a nice punch to it in several songs. The CD kicks off with a bang with the lusty anthem "Circled In Flames," full of excess and yelping good fun. The song sways from barbed and venomous to harmony-filled and lush.
It's a good setup for what comes next over the CD's nine tracks. You've got the languid, Velvet Underground-esque sway of "Drag Queen" ("She used to be famous / but now it's a shame / she makes minimum wage"), or the poppy, Breeders-homage "Release." A highlight is the six-minute epic "Vampire," which has a Goth-soaked Cure-meets-Siouxie and the Banshees feel as it unspools a tale of forlorn beauty. The Ovulators aren't afraid to add girl-group ooos and aahs to a wall of spiky guitar sound, and it's an exciting combination.
The Ovulators are still a young band, but they've got a lot of potential. One downer – the hugely unattractive CD cover of a person of indeterminate gender's haunches, wrapped in leather and apparently fondling him/herself. It's like a parody of Velvet Underground decadence, and makes you think this album is a lot cruder than it really is. Admittedly, "don't judge a CD by its cover," but some will.
That misstep aside, The Ovulators is a pretty solid debut. It's sexy and raw, yet polished enough to indicate this band has a future waiting upstream.