Welcome to Ohio. Home to obsessive football fans, monstrous bowls of chili, and the Drew Carey Show’s danceworthy theme song.
Drew lived in Cleveland, a totally different city than the one Leggy calls home, a three piece outfit from neighboring Cincinnati who recently hit us with their Nice Try EP—and made us dance some more. And all the while, rethink the coolness of a city we associated more with staunch Republicans than the catchy hooks of a punk band. It’s embarrassing to be so uninformed.
Nice Try kicks off as frontwoman Veronique Allaer hops in a time machine set for an era when Elvis’ hips caused mass hysteria and Donny Osmand was just a pale faced Mormon alter boy. She returns with a mix of classic R&B harmonies and storied, saccharine romance, laying a tale of cut-up heartache against velvety indie punk like the twinkling miniatures of a charm bracelet. Peach flesh, Cupid and a classic good-boy, bad-boy love triangle blow in a whirlwind confessional swoon backed with steady punk beats and one darkly infectious bassline. The ache of her apologies seem to bloom against the band’s murky aura, as we think of Allison hopping on Cry-Baby’s motorcycle, hugging his Levi-clad waistline close as the pair fade into John Waters’ bizarro sunset.
Like Allison, Allaer doesn’t stay innocent either. From 1960’s Motown to third wave rock and rollers, “Peach” fuzzes into “Grrls Like Us,” a tune painting Leggy in a brazen, early ’90s riot light. Here we imagine life on the front lines of candy coated nightlife, as the band sips cheap champagne and contemplates the guy across the bar. It’s a womanly sound, but by no means coy—one with the taste of cherries and nicotine and faintest air of trouble.
Leggy punches on with a “we-don’t-give-a-shit” energy, and we accept it like advice from a magic eightball. “A Reverie” is the most straightforward punk and—dare we say it—discontented track of the album’s six. Allaer maintains her bubblegum sensibility but kicks sugar to the curb, sliding vamp against clashing percussion and building, surfy guitar that question our loyalty like the aggression of the tune’s condemning lyrics. “Dancing like the stars on your birthday, I shine/Get close and then strive to be perfect, you know why.” Hinging on the band’s undoubted independent streak, the song cuts assumed self-assuredness into craving purity, desired intimacy and sometimes, more than anything, the need to get away.
Leggy’s final tracks stay in the shadows despite visions of barefoot walks, apple pies, and sunny days at the beach. It’s the power of these images that move us, seeing familiarities of our youth with the weird in-betweenness of our 20’s. As the fuzzy bassline of “July” slinks into our eardrums we nod to the power of simple sights to make our heart skip with a stammer, as faded memories rush back with the nostalgia of broken promises, old notes, and the cracked lens of hindsight.
Nice Try by Leggy