Like their first, Women's second album throws a number of challenges at the listener. Will you tolerate the brash guitars and deadpan vocals for 45 minutes? Will the ocean of reverb soaking everything leave you feeling untethered and disconnected? Will the spikes of cacophonic experimentation grate or gratify?
Smartly, the Calgary post-rock foursome keep their tunes succinct and forward-moving, while that ocean of reverb smoothes out some of the harsher angles. Recorded by Cowtown hero Chad VanGaalen, Public Strain is front-loaded with some of the more patience-testing tunes, but stick with it to discover some astonishing beauties.
The surreal Locust Valley sounds like Robyn Hitchcock gone indie rock, the mellow Venice Lockjaw has a pleasing vulnerability, while final track Eyesore blends Beach Boys-ish breeziness and warmth with an art rock twist.
Top track: Eyesore
Women play Lee's Palace Wednesday (September 29).