Try Harder (Resurrection / Austin Town Hall)
Reviewed by Greg Stitt, Fri., Nov. 22, 2019
Formed by bassist/vocalist Jolie Flink and drummer Adam Sharp after the dissolution of garage trio Those Howlings in 2015, Mean Jolene's sophomore platter sizzles with highly refined power-punk and a bedrock-solid foundation of Josie & the Pussycats adoration. Try Harder brings with it a lineup overhaul, welcoming bass work from Maud Morgan and a twin guitar delivery from Ray Seraphin (since replaced by Steven Garcia of Très Oui) and Alison Copeland, better known as punk photog Ali Ditto. Built on Thin Lizzy guitar exaltation, "Not Enough" opens the album as Flink reveals, "I have done nothing wrong but I feel so ashamed/ I'm left unsatisfied now, my desire's to blame," her sugarcoated vocals throughout often betraying point-blank lyricism and emotional nudity. Outwardly grappling with self-worth, lost connections, and the bad choices we continue to make into whatever nebulous kind of adulthood this town grants us, Flink's rigid lyrical content is given levity by the quintet's well-informed pop hooks, an audible crate-digging adventure pulling in like-minded threads from Nikki Corvette, Holly Beth Vincent, and Kim Deal.