Morningwood (Capitol)

Despite her self-consciously sleazy stage shtick, Chantal Claret, the busty rock chick who leads this New York electro-trash act, doesn't quite muster the live-wire esprit of her scene sister Karen O, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman famous for pouring beer on herself. Luckily for her bandmates, Claret doesn't seem to know this: Throughout Morningwood's self-titled debut, Claret struts, pouts and sasses with so much scenester-kid conviction that she gives the band's post-Elastica wriggling a dash of character it'd surely lack without her. In "Jetsetter" Claret switches from little-girl coo in the verse to grown-woman roar in the chorus so easily that you're not sure which (if either) is the put-on. As he's done on records by the Pixies and Foo Fighters, English alt-rock veteran producer Gil Norton builds a similar sense of dynamics, which gives the songs more electricity than they've really got. Opener "Nü Rock" grinds away at an average-sounding stoner-rock riff, then explodes into a controlled blast of sex-bomb fury. And like some forgotten Queen B-side, "Nth Degree" (in which Claret spells out the group's name in fine demented-cheerleader form) goes for pretty and loud at the same time. It's harmless, hollow fun.
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