Reviewed by Matt Wray
Thursday, July 30 1998, 1:56 PM
Tired of post-punk anthems of social dysfunction? Had enough of guitar-driven angst and anomie? Maybe you're ready to give The Lookers a chance. Go ahead, take a good long look. It's ok to stare. They're fun to watch.
The Lookers are a band from Portland, another fine dyke-pop trio from Candy-Ass Records, that really likes to have fun. I first saw them in an old warehouse space down at the dry docks in San Francisco. Their hook-filled, sweet pop melodies seemed to lift all of the toxic, heavy metal dirt up off the floor and blow it out the barn-sized door. And the lyrics are, well, lyrical. Somehow, despite all the clouds of mephitic dust, I felt cleaner.
On their aptly named CD In Clover, whether they're singing feminist hymns of admiration to unconventional heroes like Wilma Rudolph and Ladybird Johnson, or remembering loves lost and found, they always make it sound bright and happy. Not Prozac happy, but the happiness that comes from fighting to find the good in the bad. It's a happiness that comes from knowing all too well what it's like to be sad.
For me, it's this sincere and cheeky utopian impulse that makes this music stand apart from the ironic and the detached moods, the self-loathing and the fearful paranoia of so much contemporary pop. Vocals by Sarah Dougher are at times warbled and other times strong, reminiscent of the style of Marcy Mays of Scrawl, as if she were pushing her own voice to its limit, to make it say something it can barely say. The minimalism of the guitar work by Allison and the quiet solid drumming of STS make for perfect accompaniment. In Clover is like some kind of sweet refreshing beverage--bubbly, syrupy, yes. But without the cloying aftertaste.
Candy Ass Records, 1997