Isabella Knight and Sonny Lanegan have a peculiar relationship, as evidenced by the band they share together, Los Angeles based The Dead Good. An electronic rock group, mixed with a little punk, a little blues, a little pop, their songs are high energy bursts, songs that praise not each other but the essence of rock n’ roll. And with tracks called “Junk Nation” and “Saw, Drills and Glue Guns,” they are not your typical rock couple.
On their new EP, Thirteen Polaroids, the two duel beastly vocals, shred out waves of shimmering guitar riffs, and take minimal breaths in between each high-energy performance. Opening track “Junk Nation” is a perfect thesis to the group, a definitive announcement of their arrival, and their intentions to be both seen and heard. Set to the beat of an electronic drum, Isabella and Sonny’s vocals pound with such intensity that they seem to merge into one. “Saw Drills and Glue Guns” is an ever-building aural assault, a sound that builds from the ground up with raw honesty, bruises and all. Isabella shrieks and squeaks like Karen O., but remains her own rock persona force. “Room 106” slows the two down only slightly, but with harmonies and hazy guitars that recall a love for corny ’80s and ’90s ballads.
“Crush” may be the closest the two get to a romantic track, with lyrics such as “I’m your worst catastrophe.” The mutually-assured destruction is made all the more palpable by their parallel vocals, which trace on top of each other like two cheetahs stalking each over back and forth from a safe distance. The inclusion of the cover “I Put A Spell On You” is almost tongue in cheek, a love song that tells the sad desperation of wishing a cheating lover to stay with you. Though mostly filler as a song, it extends the personalities of Isabella and Sonny, and modernizes a classic by relating it to the emotionally charged, but detached, scene they are born from.
“Through My Bones” is possibly my favorite track, a slow burner that reveals audible surprises as it builds through industrial and electronic sounds, and a guitar solo that is furious and intense. It’s cleaner, more mature production, an end that subverts the messy, hole-in-the-wall rock club vibe that they established from the beginning of the EP. The Dead Good tread this line ever so closely on Thirteen Polaroids, performing songs we’ve felt we’ve heard before, but madly, intensely, and in mutual love of gritty noise. In doing so they show that while they appear raw and untamed on the outside, inside they are curators of the musical genres that inspire them to create.