Earth Girls’ debut in early 2014 stood up as one of the best things to happen in the Chicago punk scene by the end of the year. This of course was helped by the rapid turnaround between their debut demo release in February and their first official EP (Wrong Side of History) in June. While it’s unfair, it almost seemed disappointing to have to wait over a year for another release from the three-piece. Earth Girls’ latest work, Someone I’d Like to Know, is a four-song 7″ that was originally released last year as a cassette.
But the problem with Someone I’d Like to Know is immediately clear: You’re sure you’ve heard these songs before. Not that Earth Girls sounds too much like any of their predecessors, but there comes a point when a band needs to evolve its own sound and the Chicago punk band isn’t showing signs of it. It’s fair to say that what’s broke doesn’t need fixing, but it’s also arguable that when a band’s sound doesn’t show signs of growth from record to record, it can get boring.
There are a few points on Someone I’d Like to Know where Earth Girls begins this evolution. On “Room to Breathe,” the band closes out the track with an instrumental run that escapes the vocal-centric sound the band has become familiar with. It’s rare to hear Earth Girls stray too far from the comfort of Panella’s excellently written melodies – and for good reason. No one’s listening to an Earth Girls record for the power chords. They’re listening to Panella’s voice weave hook after hook while the instruments simply provide an appropriate backdrop. But when the third track goes nearly a minute and a half (more than half the track) without Panella’s voice, it feels like a parent letting go of their child’s bike and watching them coast along on their own for the first time. And to your pleasure, Earth Girls doesn’t crash. A quick guitar riff keeps your hooked while the dynamic teases a build up underneath until the song abruptly ends.
Panella’s own vocals even escape themselves at a point on the 7″. The frontwoman expands her melodic repertoire on the title track, “Someone I’d Like to Know.” Instead of quickly spitting out lines and ending the melody by holding out the final note until the track bleeds from verse to chorus and back again, Panella adds pop dynamics and bends her voice at points, even utilizing it as an instrument when she adds ooo’s and aaa’s in moments where the guitars typically take over in an Earth Girls track.
There’s no denying this release is worth listening to quite a few times. Hell, if you loved the last two Earth Girls releases, you should order a copy as soon as it’s available because this will fill the void of having gone over a year without a new Panella vocal hook. But if you’re looking for a certain level of growth from a band that’s clearly etched out its sound, Someone I’d Like to Know might just fall short.