Cheap Girls released their newest album, “Giant Orange”, in February on Rise Records. Here’s a review of the album, also available to read via Central Michigan Life.

The third time seems to be the charm for Lansing’s Cheap Girls, releasing their newest record “Giant Orange” on Rise Records in February. Using that phrase, “third time’s a charm,” implies they missed the mark on their first two albums, 2008′s “Find Me a Drink Home” (Quote Unquote records) and 2009′s “My Roaring 20s” (Paper and Plastick records), but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Produced by Tom Gabel, frontman of Florida punk band Against Me!, immediately makes a difference on the band’s signature brand of power-pop. On their first two albums, everything about the music sounds a bit flat in comparison to the recordings on this new effort. On “Communication Blues,” guitarist Adam Aymor uses power chords to his advantage. The single note crawl heard throughout the song sounds just as crunchy as the power chord barrages during the choruses. Every guitar riff on the album sounds crisp, loud and heavy like a bag of bricks.

The rhythm section, via brothers Ben Graham (drums/backing vocals) and Ian Graham (lead vocals/bass), is incredibly tight and efficient. Ben uses each hit to push the song forward to its natural conclusion. The cymbals sound fresh and inviting, and the kick drum and snare add a subtle but powerful punch. The bass is a little low in the mix for my tastes. It’s there, but it’s sneaky — pretty swallowed up by the guitars.

Wordsmith Ian Graham uses a bit too many on this album. On previous efforts, Graham wrote a lot of shorter verses with shout along choruses that are a blast to belt away to live. Here, the lyrics can be quite a mouthful. The chorus for opener “Gone All Summer” is “I’ve been gone all summer and I think it’s for the great good.” Not necessarily a bad thing, but different from Ian’s previous lyrics, which takes a bit of getting used to. I’ve been listening to the album non-stop for a little more than a week and still don’t have all the lyrics memorized. I will soon though.

All in all, Gabel’s production brings out the best in the power trio. Aymor’s guitar sounds incredibly powerful and is a perfect transition to what they sound like live. The rhythm section is extremely tight, yet has a natural swagger. Ian’s bass is quiet, almost too much so, but it works. His lyrics are a little wordy, but worth the multiple listens to decipher. I highly recommend this.