Kicking off with a drum roll and Heather Newkirk’s tuneful, spit-in-your-face voice, this Dayton quintet’s debut album is like a leftover land mine from the heyday of punk rock that’s just been unearthed and exploded. Charged with righteous personal politics and screw-you attitude, every song is sassy and savvy. As in albums by the great punks of yore, there’s plenty of melody floating on top of the instrumental venom, thanks to the pulsating guitar lines that ring in effects-laden sheets between the vocal harmonies and the hammer-blow rhythms. And Shesus stick to the rules of classic pop, making their points in three-minute bursts that are jammed with hooks. The guitar solos are trim, too, limited to a few squalling, knife-edged notes aimed to prick the skin, like the jarring six-string siren that introduces "B-side Radio."
Even when they borrow from the Who’s "Baba O’Riley" in "Over & Out," Shesus sound sincere. They deliver their songs with such untempered energy, clarity, and plain whacking force, there’s no doubt they believe in sneaking off to get high and flipping the bird to authority — especially male authority. They share Ohio punk forefathers Pere Ubu’s interest in pushing the sonic limits with jagged guitar lines and rackety drum beats meant to shove you off balance. But then there’s "Hawaiian Love Song," a sweetly sung pledge of devotion where the guitars temper their growl to a purr — it provides a glimpse at the soft center of this band’s tough hearts.