Karmella’s Game – You’ll Be Sorry
For years, Karmella’s Game have been one of the most infectiously fun live bands in Baltimore, with a bombastic treble overload of squealing synth lines and polished female vocal harmonies. However, like many power pop bands, they’ve struggled to translate the energy of their concerts to studio recordings without losing the heft of their rhythm section and the crunch of their more guitar-driven material. Their 2003 debut EP, What He Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Him, was promising but still tentative and lightweight, while their first full-length, 2006’s The Art Of Distraction, was a confident step in the right direction, with heavier rock and almost proggy song structures.
Their second studio album, the new You’ll Be Sorry, is by no means a sophomore slump. That much is guaranteed by the second track “Tour Boyfriends,” with an insistent tempo and extended instrumental breakdowns that place it among the best Karmella’s Game songs. But it is a bit of a disappointment that the band hasn’t noticeably advanced their sound or their command of the studio in the past three years. The brushed drums and clean piano of “Twisted Stitches” and the midtempo new wave ballad “Needles And Notions” expand the band’s emotional range, lest their thick catalog of peppy pop-punk anthems make them seem too one-dimensional. Still, they’re not rocking harder or writing more ambitiously than on The Art Of Distraction, where the songs were generally more memorable. You might not be sorry if you skip this album and check out its predecessor, but you will be sorry if you never give their live show a chance.