The Man-Eaters were a fictional all-lady biker gang that terrorized a small Florida town and attacked a rival male biker gang, according to the IMDB description of the 1968 movie She-Devils On Wheels. This is the same film that the Montreal-based duo She-Devils cites as its namesake, but the DIY pop band doesn’t share the movie’s aggressive tone. Instead, their debut self-titled record is soft and flowing, lulling you safely in with simplistic lyrics provided by vocalist Audrey Ann Boucher before the sampled production from noise artist Kyle Jukka hits you. She-Devils is a promising debut, and expands on the premise of their collaboration to create a hypnotic landscape.
On early releases, She-Devils created all backing instrumentation by looping samples from old music, twisting the sounds in ways that made it completely unrecognizable from the original. Some blogs have questioned the moral line on which they danced, but they on their new record, they took the safest legal route by sampling themselves on instruments. And even still, they defend their old practice too, telling The Editorial, “art is a conversation.” Artists influence one another and add to the growing landscape of expression, and so copyrights on art can be tricky. It’s fairly likely that their label, Secretly Canadian, had some influence on the declining use of uncredited samples in their music, but that quote still resonates in their creative process, which is very much a conversation between the two of them.
The duo began playing live shows months before recording any material. They worked on tracks onstage rather than in a studio, which gave them room to experiment. Boucher has spoken about how this time helped her to adjust to being a musician, as she had never been in a band before. In fact, both describe how there was never a moment when they decided to make music together as She-Devils, it happened organically after one of Jukka’s roommates introduced them at their living space in Montreal’s artsy Mile-Ex neighborhood. Their relationship isn’t as intimate as the experiences of other bands, and their creative process is thoroughly democratic: Jukka sends a simple sample clip to Boucher, she adds some ideas on it, and the track goes back and forth until they settle on a finished product.
Their latest product: a debut full-length record, which is out now on Secretly Canadian. It is tinged with hues of nostalgia, given the reverb-laden guitars on some tracks and the crackling synths on others. Boucher sings with a melodic sense of disinterest, easily able to embrace and reject you in the same breath. “I’ve got a gun in my pocket and I’m ready to fire,” she croons on “Make You Pay.” The lyrics of the record follow in a push-pull relationship, hypnotizing you on “Come,” putting a pistol to your head a few songs later, and then after that, making confusing passes: “Darling, why do you think I care? Why do you think I want to be with you?” Because you like me, I hope?
The album hits its stride on “Blooming,” a booming anthem with a She-Devils twist. The sounds swirl magnificently in the background, to create a groundwork of noise that even Phil Spector couldn’t argue with. Though the production elements are subtle, they define She-Devils and their LP wouldn’t sound quite as unique without them. Quirks also dot the record in unexpected places, most notably the clown cackle in “The World Laughs,” an otherwise comforting song. These elements make you wonder about who exactly are the people that created this music? “If I told you everything I think about…” Boucher sings on “How Do You Feel.” Lucky for us, she promises that the band “will remain a duo until the end of time,” so we may crack these two enigmas yet.
It is worth checking out their first EP, titled, um, “She-Devils EP,” which is available on Bandcamp for pay-what-you-can. Grab their full-length on Bandcamp as well, or wherever you listen to music. Last but certainly not least, if you’re looking for more to read about She-Devils, this Portals interview is fairly adorable.
by: Zoe Elaine