This New York punk-pop quartet with the dirty name (get it?) looks like a raunchy Mini Pops reunion. The cover, thanks to singer Chantal Claret’s voluptuous pout and drummer Alfredo Ortiz’s Angus Young-inspired jersey, screams novelty. A scan through the song titles (“Babysitter,” “Everybody Rules,” “Take off Your Clothes”) might not win over any serious Pitchfork-ophiles, but get over yourself — this debut album is the most clothing-optional musical fun out there. With a self-described sound like a “monster truck rally having Tantric sex with a Bond girl,” Morningwood is better compared to a blender party, with Joan Jett, Peaches, Van Halen, Kathleen Hanna and The Cardigans’ Nina Persson on the invite list. But really, Morningwood is Claret, whose sex-kitten burlesque humour is a refreshing vision after the pile of morose, ‘80s-throwback matchsticks crowding the stages lately. Morningwood, comprised primarily of duo Claret and bassist Pedro Yanowitz (ex-Wallflowers), met at a party for Sean Lennon in 2001, where Claret’s spontaneous song to the birthday boy blew the crowd away. Subscribing to Madonna’s theory that the only penis you need is the one in your head, Claret’s voice has balls and she’s not afraid to use them. She controls this album, swaggering through like a bad boy who means naughty business. The disco beats of “Nth Degree” are so catchy it borders on silly. “Jetsetter,” in harder territory, takes cues from Hole. The call and response of “New York Girls” kicks back to The Pixies, but really, Morningwood’s sleazy sounds are all their own.
—Sue Carter Flinn