My, how The Phuss have grown. Not that Wanted, the group's 2009 EP, or last year's split with comrades Trebuchet were immature, but there are subtle shifts forward on their full-length debut. They expanded to a three-piece with the addition of bassist Forrest Barton, and knocked out these nine songs with producer Vaden Todd Lewis of Toadies, who avoided the Marshall amp swamp sound of his own band and put a sharper point on The Phuss' fat guitar crunch.
Perhaps their strongest area of growth is vocals. Singer-guitarist Joshua Fleming has added more range, angst and melody ("You Ought to Know"), and an occasional high-end howl ("Bleed"). More so, it's done with convincing emotion. He and violently energetic drummer Trey Alfaro appear to be bloody agitated, and their songwriting reflects the exotic moods of the new songs: the echoing rumba of "Answer Me," the rock-to-tango trade-off from verse to chorus in "You Ought to Know." Still, The Phuss mainly make their home in the punk-rock garage ("Someone to Die For," "Stupid Girl").
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Despite all this growth and creative spark, they don't shed their three-chord rock and roll recipe, nor their unmistakable Fort Worth-branded hard rock signatures. They seem to have done all this growing without a whole lot of growing up, and it works for them. Overall, they sound more pissed and bitter than ever about love and hangovers, and leave that special ringing in the ears long after the album is finished. Well done.