On the opening track and title cut of Magic Dirt’s major-label debut, Adalita Srsen is optimistic, even calmly cocky. “I can do it. Everything,” she repeats over some well-placed guitar notes, a bass, and a touch of feedback, sounding like a frisky Kim Gordon playing tag at the start of Daydream Nation. The quiet doesn’t last for long, though, as the song swells into something so big and loud Srsen has to shred a lung just to be heard. By song 2, “Heavy Business,” Srsen is done being coy. “I am going from one to the other,” she snarls, promising that she’ll get hers, a conviction the Australian four-piece supports with its thundering clash of downtown noise and speed-freak thrash. Sonic Youth has altered plenty of minds over the years, but seldom have the enlightened practiced guitar-tone gluttony with the fervor and elan of Magic Dirt. Srsen and co-guitarist Daniel Herring flood their songs with enough riffs to sustain most So-Cal punks throughout an entire album, letting the sounds bump against each other and change course like skinny kids caught in a mosh. The improvisational alchemy is wound so tight that it’s unclear what’s feeding on what—the music on the players or the other way around. And stuck in the middle of the blur, Srsen struts this band’s most redeeming feature: sass.

—Brett Anderson

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