Chemtrails are the second duo-in-a-romantic-relationship-gone-band put out by PNKSLM Recordings – Luxury Death being the previous example of this apparently winning formula. I say winning, because Headless Pin Up Girl is a delightful EP. Normally I’m not too enthused by anything that gets called ‘psychedelic’ – usually, that’s a synonym for ‘without content’ – but Chemtrails I don’t mind at all.
It’s the tunes, of course. This is like Foxygen, but waaaay better. MGMT, but subversive. Reminds me of my faves, Smith Westerns (and that’s good, ’cause I always forget about them). Wacky 60s bands I’m missing out on. (Not John Lennon, though, more George Harrison). The Kinks taking too many drugs. Yes, I’ll settle on that.
There’s hardly any point in mentioning which songs I like most since there are only six on the EP anyway, but here goes. ‘Headless Pin Up Girl’ has everything: a slow tambourine, the image of a headless pin up girl (and other psychedelic lyrics), and background harmonies as good as Avi Buffalo’s. ‘Most Of What They Pour On Me Is Scorn’ has the same ingredients and is equally catchy (which is what it’s all about). ‘Deranged’ turns up the tempo a notch and makes me realise that what I like most about Chemtrails is the sound of the vocals: slightly nasal, lightly distorted like the guitars, as if they’re taken from a family holiday videotape of that endless summer. ‘Digitalis’, lastly, goes back to dreamy and rhymes well. It’s the simple things that count.
You shouldn’t make the mistake, by the way, to confuse Chemtrails’s pleasantness with frivolity. Behind the melodies lie Mia Lust’s personal lyrics. The title track, for example, is about Lust’s coming out as transgender and transitioning. The title itself is a reference to photos of people on crossdressing forums with their head cropped out to hide their identity, but also a very powerful metaphor for living with any kind of secret. And the idea of a headless pin-up girl is quite subversive in itself: a refusal of traditional beauty norms, like beheaded Barbie dolls.
Going on Headless Pin Up Girl then, we’ve got a lot to look forward to from Chemtrails. You can buy the EP here via Bandcamp.
-- Caspar Jacobs, May 25, 2017