R. Ring, for those not already in the know, is Kelley Deal, she of The Breeders and The Kelley Deal 6000, and Mike Montgomery of Ampline. It is largely a guitar-centric affair, though guests pepper the recording on drums and, even more notably, strings. There are no lulls or filler or lally-gagging on this one, though. After a standout EP, R. Ring is totally revved up and ready to roll, firing on all cylinders. The new record, out Friday on Sofaburn, doesn’t skip a beat as it darts between grungy power pop (“Salt,” “Loud Underneath”), amped-up barn-burners (the closing “SEE”) and rough-hewn but genuinely ballad-ish gems that will take you right to your knees with their trembling honesty (the brilliant “You Will Be Buried Here” and “100 Dollar Heat,” which might the LP’s finest moment and whose lyrics offer it its title).
Though campiness is referenced in the lyrics of “Cutter,” the trait is on beautiful display on the sultry “Unwinds,” where a breathy Deal sounds like she’s slowly and tenderly making love to her vocal delivery. (This is hot-under-the-collar stuff, complete with gyrating guitars – not for the faint of heart.) Elsewhere, the record is spare and allows the guitars and atmospherics to do the talking along with Deal’s silky delivery (“Fallout and Fire”) “Singing Tower,” a poppy rumination, is the tender to the point of cloudiness. “Steam,” an acoustic-and-strings ballad that Montgomery fronts to great, trembling effect, simply is transfixing.
It’s hard not to compare this work, all 12 tracks, to The Breeders and Ampline, which R. Ring echoes in grandeur and ethos if not in conventional tone and tune, but, even by those standards, it stands up on its own. This is a great release by two musicians still at the top of their respective game – immediate, gutsy, clattering and beautiful. Find it.