review by Chance Solem-Pfeifer and Jacob Zlomke
Table of Contents
01:30 — Low-flying Guitars that Sing and Howl
03:28 — A Faithful '90s Throwback
04:34 — Looking Through Song Fabric
06:51 — See Through Dresses vs. Millions of Boys
09:15 — Boredom and Selfishness
10:50 — Saying "I Love You" is Gross
12:35 — No Cash/Carter Duets Here
The cover of See Through Dresses' self-titled debut LP is emblazoned with a flower, deep red, that has begun to wilt.
That slow wilting of familiar beauty guides the album’s content from start to finish. The Omaha quartet’s tracks range in subject matter from love to boredom to casual sadism: “Come on baby, eat my friend,” guitarist/vocalist Sara Bertuldo sings on “Johnny.”
On the album’s opening track, “Happy,” Matt Carroll, who also plays guitar and does most of the vocal heavy-lifting, wonders “if she is bored or happy.” On this album, it’s hard to tell the difference.
Musically, the record washes over in unrelenting waves of ambience and pulsing drums, while guitar work does much of the melodic heavy-lifting, sometimes just above the surface of the vocals and other instrumentation, which blend toward the same color. At other times, it soars above like a siren, outpacing its counterparts. Vocal melodies are often given little prominence.
With its roots in ‘80s post-punk and shoegaze, the album may very well be an ode to all those couples that have been together for two or more years. They’re sitting on the couch together, idly watching an entire season of Bob’s Burgers for the third night in a row. One of them wonders, “Is this fun? Are we happy?” The answers don’t matter if you’re just going to watch the next episode anyway.
“There’s nothing else to do but stay in love. I can’t say I have fun all the time,” Bertuldo sings on “So Long, Charlie.”
Like the red flower, there’s still residual beauty in these relationships. See Through Dresses manages to retool what’s left into something, if not necessarily beautiful, then, thought-provoking.