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by Ryan Snyder

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BRIDGET & THE SQUARES

— Still Life

Though her debut Still Life was more than four years in the making, Laura B. Reagan has endured the various lineup changes in her piano pop band Bridget & the Squares to put forth a highly personal, emotionally charged album that sounds cohesive and purposeful. Embodying the darker, toothier side of such songwriters as Sara Bareilles and Michelle Branch, the native Bostonian Reagan tells tales of mystifying life changes and doomed romance in the plainest of terms. In a way, the album hovers much closer to punk than pop, with production values that go easy on the bottom end to play up her warm, yet cynical vocal affectations. She eschews the commercial side of her clearest influences by disregarding hooks almost altogether in favor of bursts of raw emotion. In what might be a inference from her intraband turmoil over the last few years, her guitar and percussive accompaniment are only modestly utilized and serve mostly to amplify Reagan’s occasional outburst. They’re most prevalent on tracks like “Savior,” where she pushes her normally laidback croon into Fiona Apple-esque bitterness, and “There Are Ghosts In My Pants,” the closest thing to true pop the album has to offer. The album’s most complete track in that regard is undoubtedly “Treat Me Bad,” a song that ebbs and flows in intensity while dancing around the title’s implications. There’s a rich sound to be heard when the band comes together in these rare instances, but she’s most arresting when it’s simply her and a piano. In “Addicted,” she uses deceptive cadence to relay frustrations in giving up life’s simplest pleasures: coffee, beer, cigarettes and her penchant for ephemeral relationships. It’s simple, good and most importantly, relatable, fun for anyone who’s ever had an axe to grind, but like her closing track suggests, don’t expect much from it, and you’ll get the most from it.

77/100

Bridget & the Squares will perform at the Green Bean Thursday with Friend House and Come Hell Or High Water.

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