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Women Alex Denney , January 27th, 2009 06:34

As budding maestros of the sonic about-turn, it should come as no surprise that Women don't have vaginas – they're a Canadian quartet comprising brothers Patrick and Matthew Flegel, Michael Wallace and Christopher Reimer. Nor is their moniker the snickering indication of sexual preference it might suggest on first inspection: on the cover of their eponymous debut, the legend is superimposed strikingly onto an image of a throng of Japanese workers engaged in a bout of mass exercise. It's ambiguous and more than a little sinister.

Which is Women all over, come to think of it – ambiguous, and a little sinister. It's in the absent-minded throttle of 'Lawncare', an unlikely amalgamation of Panda Bear's colours-run psych and the mathy guitar lines of Battles, backed by a sore as hell-sounding backbeat that's like a locomotive with the driver asleep at the coal-face.

But if there's a moment which most elegantly sums Women's latent identity it's the ambitious transition between 'Woodbine' and 'Black Rice', which together function as a sort of cumulative centrepiece and a look-what-we-can-get-away-with raising of the index finger. The former is a three-and-a-half minute burst of spectral noise like the aural after-image of an especially remorseless Sunn O))) concert. It's like sunrise at thirty thousand feet; as entrancingly beautiful as it is a little bit sick-making, and it segues audaciously into the record's purest pop moment in 'Black Rice'. The latter is an overt nod to the Beach Boys, no doubt, but sounds drowsy and suburbanite next to Brian Wilson's three-minute ecstasies. Did we mention sinister already?

In spite of the bleary lo-fi scuff that permeates thanks to Sub Pop signee Chad Van Gaalen's helming of production duties, there's plenty more evidence of a precise craftsmanship at work here, from 'Group Transport Hall''s coiled acoustic vignette to 'Upstairs'' clockwork, contrapuntal flair which manages to evoke Sonic Youth at their most chiming and well-behaved and the skilful arrangements of '60s psych masters The Zombies in the same breath.

A brace of noisier numbers at the end stand out as the only half-cocked moments but for the most part, Women sparkle like the shiny thing you picked up off the pavement as a kid only for your parent's eyes to widen in horror as you presented it proudly to them. Best of all, it feels like we're not even close to discovering where Women's true intentions lie yet, but from the tightly-wound pleasures of this jam-studded debut, it seems there isn't a great deal they can't do.