When Particles Collide is a guitar-and-drum duo fronted by a high school chemistry teacher. Wait, wait, keep reading — they’re really good.
The singer and guitarist is Sasha Alcott (Ms. Alcott, to the kids at Bangor High), a Joan Jett badass with Kim Deal’s ear for cute indie pop. She and drummer Chris Viner seriously rock. Granted, this studio album’s been bolstered by some bass and guitar overdubs, but even without them the sound is big.
The 10 songs on their debut full-length, Pop! Pop! Bang! Bang!, are full of bounce and bombast. Opener “Straight Girls” is a straight-up rocker. “Moles” (a song about the chemistry kind) goes surfing. “La Di Da” and “Eclipse” are punk numbers. “Dear Rachel,” the closer, has a catchy, Grease-y chorus, plus lyrics like, “Well I heard that you’re now a mother / I wonder has it softened you up? / Or are you still pushing people around with your sour smile and your boney hips?”
WPC’s most original songs are the slower ones, like “Down to the Wire,” with its lovely countrified chorus, and the girl group popcraft of “So Fantastic.” A couple tracks fall short — e.g., “Shoulda Been Me” shoulda had a real chorus — but nothing falls too far.
Alcott’s been in bands in Bangor and The Big Apple for well over a decade, and the experience shows in her strong, confident voice. Viner’s got a jazz and jam-rock background, but he wisely resists the urge to get tricky.
The pair have been touring the East Coast extensively, and have developed a solid musical rapport that’ll only get better with time. They’ve already released two EPs, and make a point of developing relationships with other bands on the road in hopes of putting Bangor on the indie-rock map.
This great debut firmly plants a flag.
— Chris Busby
When Particles Collide plays Fri., Oct. 5, at Slainte, 24 Preble St., Portland, at 9 p.m. For more on the band, visit whenparticlescollide.com.