Katie Crutchfield — A.K.A. Waxahatchee — exemplifies grrrrl power without the grrrr. In other words, she recalls the happy-go-lucky girly exhilaration that was so prominent during the ‘80s, particularly all-girl groups like the Bangles and the Go-Gos, outfits that exuded both confidence and clarity. On her new album, Out in the Storm, she spins offers up a series of fierce, ratcheted-up rockers that boast both attitude and aptitude without sounding punk or petulant in the process.
Crutchfield’s voice adds to the agreeability factor; warm, pleasant and eschewing any excess of emotion, it offers an emphatic additive to songs that often coast by on mood and mayhem. The cascading wallop underscoring songs such as “Never Been Wrong,” “No Question” and “Silver” packs an anthemic punch — driving, decisive and worthy of inducing an army of air guitarists to take to up position and offer accompaniment. It’s that giddy, good time sound that allows Waxahatchee to stand out, if not from her predecessors, at least from the current crop of power pop posers. “I left home with nothing,” she murmurs on “Fade,” one of the more subdued sounding songs on the album, and indeed, it’s easy to imagine she’s no stranger to clawing attention while starting from the ground up.
Despite Waxahatchee’s playful posture and giddy designs, certain songs — “Sparks Fly” and “8 Ball” in particular — boast a hint of a wink and a sneer. While it might not be obvious at the outset, Waxahatchee makes a powerful impression, when it comes to the music and Crutchfield’s nod towards feisty feminism. Four albums on, she’s established a clear, firm stance as well as a solid identity, suggesting that all future endeavors ought to give cause for ongoing appreciation.