What: Pink Mink CD release party
Where: Padelford Landing, Harriet Island, St. Paul
When: July 8, 7 p.m.
I remember the exact moment when Pink Mink won me over. It was a torrid summer night at the Kitty Cat Klub . Shortly after they’d launched into a cover of Them Crooked Vultures’ “Dead End Friends,” the reason for all the feverish hype surrounding the band at the time had all of a sudden been laid bare.
It was a powerhouse performance; a glam-punk catharsis chock-full of incendiary guitar solos, Twin Cities homage and enough stiletto swagger to give Debbie Harry a run for her money. If you didn’t know any better, you could’ve sworn they were rock ‘n’ roll time travelers that had suddenly appeared after making a 20-year quantum leap into the future. It was clear they weren’t just one of Minneapolis’ best new bands. They were the best new band. And they hadn’t even released any recorded material yet.
Now one year, countless headlining slots and a City Pages’ Picked-to-Click award later, Pink Mink is ready to drop its self-titled debut this Friday.
Right out of the gate, the album doesn’t bother pulling any punches. From the second the gnarled guitar riff sounds on the fiery opener, “Black Door,” it’s clear that the group’s charisma isn’t limited to their live shows. Sharing vocals, the charismatic frontwoman Christine Hunt and guitarist Arzu Gokcen act as the driving force behind Pink Mink. But that’s not to say the band’s rhythm section is comprised of entry-level performers either. Hunt’s husband Charles Gehr’s savage drumming carries each track, moving them along at a breakneck pace alongside Jacques Wait’s pulsating bass grooves.
Produced by Wait, Pink Mink’s debut is a potent mix of raw power that shines with top-tier production and accomplished songwriting. From the bluesy murk of “Werewolf Island” to the surf-punk bounce on “Earthquake on the Loose,” it’s an album that sounds as polished as it does raucous and channels the bustling heyday of local icons like the Replacements and Hüsker Dü. There are even numerous nods to Twin Cities denizens and landmarks like Scott Seekins, Hidden Beach and a superb cover of the Replacement’s delinquent anthem, “Kids Don’t Follow.”
But Pink Mink has its tamer moments too.
“End of the World Delight” is a sweetly nostalgic throwback to ’60s girl pop packed with innocent references that find Hunt reminiscing about everything from John Waters movies to redheads and slumber parties. And on the far less glamorous “Ghost Bike,” Hunt’s woeful croon soars over a towering wall of noise that builds its way toward a rousing chorus. It all amounts to something that seems like it’d resonate with more Hole fans than spiky-haired punk runts.
Pink Mink’s debut succeeds partly because it works on so many different levels. Clocking in at just less than 40 minutes, it’s a blistering run with plenty of spirit and snark that never lets up along the way. Considering the band has established their reputation solely through live shows up until now, the album’s release is sure to broaden their fan base. And for those who’ve already been won over, it’ll be nice to finally be able to sing along with some of the songs.
3.5 out of 4 stars.
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