By: Eric G.
It’s hard to get past a name as awful as Bald Rapunzel, but, luckily, the band is much better than its turgid appellation would lead you to believe. Led by the soulful voice of Bonnie Schlegel, Bald Rapunzel fuses D.C. post-punk tendencies with haunting pop melodies. This debut album reveals a band just growing out of its awkward early stages. The song writing is pretty solid for the most part- full of energy and startling technical precision, but some of the musical tangents seem a bit self-indulgent.
Schlegel’s voice carries much of the weight on Diazepam. It’s mixed very high, and the guitars are often strummed timidly as she sings. The band knows how to manipulate the emotional charge of its music very well. Many songs begin with swaying mid-tempos and quiet, jangly guitars that build into a swirl of controlled noise. The riffs alternate between angular arpeggios and driving octave chords. The production is very straightforward matching the band’s no frills execution.
The lyrics are a mix of ambiguities and heart-on-your-sleeve sensitivity. Schlegel delivers her words with an expressive but sultry wail. Elements of the D.C. hardcore scene are discernible in Bald Rapunzel’s minor-keyed textures. The best example of what Bald Rapunzel is capable of is “Ms. Leading.” Schlegel’s voice interacts soulfully with the guitars, which climax in a sharp and affecting chorus. Diazepam is a confidant and engaging debut.