Lest you get the wrong idea about this Baltimore band based on their name, let it be known that War on Women is a feminist band and not a misogynist outfit. Some of the songs have an appropriately feminist message (or really, just a 'get a clue, jackass' message) and not to discount that but Improvised Weapons really is all about rocking your socks off. Musically the band (two women, three men) plays fast, punk-tinged garage rock with melodic overtones that recalls any number of female-fronted modern bands like Girl in a Coma as well as legacy acts like Missing Persons and Blondie. Singer Shawna Potter is the reason for those comparisons; she scowls angrily through her lyrics one minute and squeaks out high notes like a pop goddess the next, demonstrating a versatility throughout these six songs that keeps the listener guessing as to her mood. There's no need to over think this one though; just turn it up and shake it loose.
I try my best not to ever cram a band into a pigeonhole but when I set Searchlights to spinning I immediately flashed back to hit makers like Concrete Blonde. And that's not a bad thing. If you like well-done, sprightly pop/rock featuring a vivacious girl singer then you'll have it in the case of the Shondes and lead vocalist Louisa Rachel Solomon. Solomon's voice rings clear as a bell here, demanding a sing along on original songs like "Give Me What You've Got" and channeling a Debbie Harry/Patti Smith mash-up on "All This Weight." Searchlights probably would have garnered a gold record had it come out in the '80s and there's definite treasure here for those willing to take a chance.