The Rizzos, one of Brooklyn’s finest purveyors of garage pop, have returned with their second full-length LP, the mature How It Was.
Recorded over the span of four years in DIY home studios, How It Was finds the band polishing up their songwriting and arranging chops, with guitarist/singer Megan Mancini and bassist/producer Justin Ferraro fully coming into their own.
This record shows off the power trio’s vast versatility by featuring both somber ballads and danceable punk nuggets that all display a strong emphasis on melody. The band’s ability to rock out hard while still retaining this strong sense of musicality, which is accentuated by Mancini’s dynamic vocals, is what helps The Rizzos stand out in their field. It also makes this album feel both timeless and easily accessible. These are the kind of infectious songs that you’ll catch yourself singing in the shower or whistling while you work.
This quality is perhaps strongest on the toe-tapping “Crybaby.” This is an instant classic that listeners of all ages can enjoy. The rhythm and vocals seem to echo the teen dance vibe of 60s pop groups like The Ronettes, while the chorus and the tasteful use of brass in the finale brings to mind the likes of 80s Bruce Springsteen. Yet, the group’s use of fuzzy guitar and punchy drums keeps this (and the other tracks) raw, hip and heavy enough to keep any DIY venue-dwelling twenty-something happy.
While the majority of the album feels like a party, it’s not without its sadness. Songs like the heartbreaking closing number, “Long Dog,” cut straight to the bone and ache with a relatable genuine pain.
Just take the aptly titled “Heavy Song,” for instance. The track begins with chilly riffs and Bettina Warshaw Applebaum’s drums thundering ominously behind distorted guitar howls that whip from speaker to speaker like a crying banshee. Through this turbulent atmosphere comes some of the most passionate and soaring vocals of Mancini and Ferraro’s careers. The production here is astounding, as the instruments tangle and wrap themselves around you, making you feel as though you are being pulled deep into the private storms of a mind tormented by angst and woe. It’s a track that haunts you and leaves its mark.
For a document of a creative peak of one of NYC’s most endearingly original garage bands, get The Rizzo’s How It Was from their Bandcamp today.