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Jemina Pearl
Break It Up
Universal Motown Records
www.umrg.com


Singer-songwriter Jemina Pearl can sound as innocent as a kewpie doll in her songs, like in "I Hate People", featuring Iggy Pop on background vocals, and then switch face and become as cut-throat as a loan shark in "Looking For Trouble". The former lead singer of Be Your Own Pet has gone solo with her new album Break It Up. Even though she forges a solo path, she still shows a propensity for old school punk rock models as she had done with BYOP. Break It Up is a crossover between the staccato beating of Sleater Kinney and the pogo-pumping of Dropkick Murphys, releasing high voltage energy from every pore and showing that [Pearl] is still a torch bearer of classic punk flames relatable to the Buzzcocks and The Dead Kennedys who started it all back in the '70s.

When Pearl touts "Wave good-bye to my middle finger" on the track "Band On The Run", it is done with an empowering voicing that is reminiscent of the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten. Using a mixture of go-go funk's ruffled beating in "Retrograde" and power punk ridging in "No Good", Pearl never lets up on the gas pedal. Many of the tracks may remind folks of the music featured on the soundtrack to the film The Runaways, a biopic of Joan Jett's life with the all-girl-band. Pearl has her own vocal style but certain facets of her register are identifiable with Joan Jett's tough girl approach and take no guff attitude. There is a doo-wop pulsing in the undertow of "Nashville Shore" that reams of vintage dance-pop, and a butt kicking stomp in Pearl's vocals through "Selfish Heart" and "So Sick" that would make Iggy Pop proud to call her a fellow punk rocker.

Break It Up swarms with old school punk flusters and Motown-inspired go-go funk pulsing. Nothing about the album can accuse Pearl of being a wallflower, quite the contrary, her vocals punch, thrust, and brim with enthusiasm. BYOP might be no more, but Jemina Pearl shows that she has much more to offer musically and relishes the punk rock stylizing of her forefathers.

-Susan Frances

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