Here's one explanation for the lack of female-fronted power-pop bands through the years: While girls might appreciate the power, as well as the pop, they're creeped out by the teenaged male geek emotional state -- mainly obsession with and over-idealization of girls -- that laces the chiming hooks together. If that's true, The Suspicions' Karen Mitchell is no typical girl. Her tunes pack exactly the kind of stylish expressions of overgrown teenage yearning that mark power pop -- cars, radios, love notes, hand-claps, whoa-ohs -- but somehow, maybe because they come from a female perspective, feel refreshing and genuine. On "Much Too Late," like her male counterparts since ever, she's too shy to talk. On "Runaround" she gender-reverses a line straight off a Rubinoos or Raspberries song: "Don't break my heart, 'cause you're the best little boy I've found." She's got an aptly reedy voice, like a rougher Ronnie Spector or a smoother Kim Shattuck (of The Muffs), and her guitar work splits the difference between chiming lilt and tough riffage straight down the middle. Mitchell should beware: Geek sex-symbol status awaits.
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