Rosy Finch – Scarlet Review

In the house-painting business, the color red is an “angry color.” No one in their right mind would paint their bedroom or their town, for that matter, red. And, if you do, expect hysteria and cringing looks from visitors. Let me give you an example. The hallway that led to my office in grad school was red. Both walls. I shit you not. To make matters worse the hellish tunnel narrowed as you approached its end—where, to no one’s surprise, you could find my office. Trust me when I tell you that five years of red walls can fuck with a person. Like grad schools, animals also use the color red to ward off people. Red can represent everything from lovers to the most gruesome of deaths. And Spain’s grrrl sludge group, Rosy Finch, is every bit as varying in its topics and delivery. With artwork that looks as though poor Carrie got it again, this is Scarlet.

This is a new one for me. Not only does the band label themselves as a grrrl outfit—supporting all the feministic views that go with it—while playing a style of music that mixes the grunge of The Melvins with the stoner of Kyuss and the alt-rock of Alice in Chains. And, like Alice in Chains, the band even has an acoustic re-envisioning (The Sunset Acoustic Sessions Vol. 1) of many of the songs from their debut record (Witchboro). So far it’s been an odd career path for these Spaniards. And it gets more interesting with Scarlet. A record that is by far more hooking and heavy than the debut. Mireia Porto’s guitar tone is nasty and her vocal delivery fits the beefy licks like a surgical glove. Like Witchboro, there’s plenty of variation on Scarlet but, somehow, this works better.

We get things started with one of the best openers of the year. For me, an opening track should set the stage for what’s to come. And “Oxblood” does that to a “T.” With a growing introduction of mid-paced riff changes. But the riff it arrives at is the most headbangable, pushing the song to the hookiest chorus on the disc. Other tracks with fine choruses, killer grooves, and mighty heft are “Lava,” “Ruby,” and “Alizarina.” The former follows the opener in track placement as well as drive. The attitude is meaner than its predecessor, providing varying screams, punkish yells, and desperate croons from Porto’s voice. On the other hand, “Alizarina” is a two-minute exercise in the finger-tapping grunge of Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age. It has a fun riff to match its energy and Porto’s scream at the end is hair raising. “Ruby” shows yet another side to the band. Not only does it have some beefy chops, but Porto’s screams are also backed by a male counterpart—much more than they are in “Oxblood.” Not only that, but the transition to calm, beautiful melodics is another surprising twist in the Rosy Finch sound.

But the moodiest and most melodic pieces on the record are “Scarlet,” “Vermillion,” and “Gin Fizz.” The latterest is the black sheep of the disc that cools my blood with those Southern vibes of Dax Riggs. It mixes this swampiness with clean vox and screams, with a mid-stride drop-off to the most ethereal interlude on the disc. Then, like closer “Dark Cherry,” it builds to a powerful finale. “Vermilion” is similar in approach but its Kyuss-meets-Queens of the Stone Age sound adds aggressiveness to its melodies. “Scarlet” throws The Melvins over its shoulders and trots with an infectious pace. Porto’s vocal and guitar arrangements meld perfectly and that gentle lull midway through is a beautiful addition.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I love this record. I’ve started to fall for sludge in the last five-to-six years and am a sucker, in general, for something unique. The song structures are rather simple, but the hooks and heaviness are better than I would have guessed from the descriptions of the band. Scarlet is the full package, from artwork to the album’s red theme and lyrical content. The mix is great, allowing every instrument and voice to take part in the action. All thanks to my man, Billy Anderson. Scarlet is an audial course on finding one’s identity and, for better or worse, being who you are. I’d say Rosy Finch found themselves with this one.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Lay Bare Recordings, Discos Macarras, LaRubiaProducciones, and Spinda Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: March 6th, 2020

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