L7’s full-throttle punk style has, until now, been as subtle as a flying chain saw—which worked on their excellent major-label debut, Bricks Are Heavy, but became muddled on Hungry for Stink. Now the band so broadens its musical approach, this almost sounds like a new start.
Not that the all-female L7 would ever be mistaken for calculated confections like the Spice Girls. It’s just that on such songs as “Off the Wagon” and “Moonshine,” the group proves it understands pop craftsmanship as well as volume. There are still plenty of sonic thunder (“I Need”) and angry lyrics (the title of “The Masses Are Asses” explains it all), but L7 has softened its aural assault enough to entice more of those masses. (Slash/Reprise)