Lunch Duchess is the Baroque grunge-pop project of singer/drummer/composer Katharine Seggerman. Sporting a satisfyingly aggressive pop aesthetic that grafts bits of northwest indie rock onto classic chamber pop and soft-soul sounds, Lunch Duchess hits a sweet spot you never even knew existed. This might sound like a lot––and it is.
Their melting-pot style is perhaps best represented by the opening track of their debut LP, Crying for Fun. Entitled “Cry Pt. II,” the song is a breathless climb that hearkens back to their first release (the 2016 EP My Mom Says I Have a Rich Inner Life, which featured the first part of “Cry”) while vibrating with its own giddy frequency. A sort of mini-epic about emotional self-empowerment, “Cry Pt. II” moves from a whisper to a roar and sets the template for the rest of the album: a mix of classic pop melodicism, technical guitar work, snotty punk attitude, and baroque (in both the 1960s and 1600s sense) arrangements.
That sounds like a lot––and it is––but it doesn’t seem to bother the band. A song like “Creepin’” is able to gracefully recall both Queen and Pile while the singer coos a melody straight out of a Disney princess movie. “Makes Me Love You More” mashes up blue jazz, metal chord progressions, and chipper math rock to evoke a doomed romance. “Chicago” relies on the stability of a Yo La Tengo-ish rocker to examine the anxiety of a new crush while “Body” inserts a playful piano line between ruminations on bodily autonomy. Sound odd? Lunch Duchess’s writing would be downright proggy if it weren’t full of earworms.
All of this is held together by Seggerman’s voice and lyrics, both of which move between the comically arch and the heartbreakingly plainspoken. These songs are not afraid to swing wildly between intimate emotional disclosure and flippant one-liners (sometimes backed by a Greek chorus, as on “Cry Pt. II”), or between breathy melodicism and belting. Seggerman is, refreshingly, the kind of vocalist who knows how to sing but understands that sometimes you just need to fucking moan to get the point across.
It sounds like a lot––and it is––but you should probably just get used to it. “Crying for Fun” is out August 16, 2019 via Heavy Meadow Records.