If the sound of blistering guitars on the opening track, “Boys at the Metro,” doesn’t get a listener’s attention, the “hey!” shouts will make it clearly known that Seattle’s Tea Cozies are not willing to go unnoticed. Following a 5-song EP, which received airplay on Seattle’s KEXP and numerous Internet radio stations, Tea Cozies continue to deliver an enticing mix of ’60s girl pop and swirling garage rock on their full-length debut, Hot Probs.
With sweet harmonies and 3/4ths of the band being female, Tea Cozies possess the raw sound similar to that of bands like Vivian Girls, but the energy is at a much higher level and more likely to provoke people to dancing. While there are plenty of angelic seesaw rhythms and cute lyrics, such as, “I had a boy and he had a bike and we got along real nice,” vocalists Jessi Reed and Brady Harvey are also witty and sharp-tongued. Pop culture icons Steven Spielberg, Oscar Wilde, Fred Astaire and Mary Shelley find their way into songs among words of wisdom, which reveal, “Even pretty pages crack in old books/ You can’t rely on your good looks.”
The music arrangements are just as interesting to listen to as the lyrics. Tea Cozies have a standard rock set-up — with two guitars, bass, drums, and the occasional organ — but they manage to incorporate unexpected twists and turns into songs. “Like Luca Brasi” switches back and forth from an upbeat pace to a dreamy stride, which happens a bit sudden but still sounds seamless. The song, which is about a girl who is hesitant to go swimming while on a trip with friends, but is convinced to do so and ends up drowning, summarizes the band pretty well. However, unlike the girl in the story who did not listen to her instincts, Tea Cozies are very instinctive. The band members are loud and forceful when they feel the need and slow it down if they get the urge, which adds a lot of diversity to the album.
For every straightforward pop track on Hot Probs, there is one rocking garage or soothing psychedelic track to counteract the sugary goodness. “Corner Store Girls” can be best described as bibbity bop as images of bunnies hopping in meadows, bees buzzing in gardens, and couples rollerskating at the boardwalk come to mind. The song is followed by “The South Turned Him Sour,” which contains rich and gritty sounds of roller derbies and hot rod racing.
Toward the end of the album, the music loses a bit of momentum as songs become slower and more psychedelic. There are some instances where the vocalists sound bored, but that could be mistaken with bravado. Even as the songs slow down, there is a strong aura of confidence, but it is never pretentious.