Ask the band Heavy Cream when to listen to their sophomore album, Super Treatment, and they’ll give you a few options. “The first time I heard it, it sounded like a raging party record,” says Tiffany Minton, drummer for the Nashville four-piece. Singer Jessica McFarland suggests, “Or in the car.” The band’s bassist, Seth Sutton, agrees, pointing out, “Yeah, if you’re speeding down the highway chain smoking cigarettes.” Thinking for a moment, Minton amends her initial prognosis: “I think it has a lot of different feelings. It’s party anthems—fast and punk and really gnarly sounding—and then it’s also poppy. I like to imagine some teen kid singing to it into a hairbrush.”
Indeed, classifying Heavy Cream is difficult. Sure, they play loud, fuzzy old-school rock’n’roll, but it’s as serious as it is fun, as aggressive as it is melodic. The band isn’t new, exactly, but its current incarnation—Minton joined late 2010 and Sutton mid-2011—has helped shape and strengthen the band’s focus. “When you hear the new record, it’s a completely different sound. Not too different, but you could tell that things got a lot tighter in the past year and a half, from what I’ve observed.” Minton experienced that seriousness firsthand: “I wasn’t really playing music when I joined the band—I was on a hiatus—and [McFarland and guitarist Mimi Galbierz] obviously had big goals and had already accomplished a lot when I joined. So they were like, ‘We’re looking for musical excellence and we want to do this all the time, so…in or out?’”
That intensity pays off on Super Treatment, a fast-paced album that takes a page from classic ‘70s bands like the Ramones and the Runaways. Recorded in San Francisco with the help of garage rocker Ty Segall on analog equipment a quarter-century old, the tracks capture the energy that the band brings with them to the stage. While it’s impossible to replicate McFarland, who during the band’s most recent tour stalked about onstage in a tight-fitting catsuit, on record, the band’s energy is captured on tracks like “The Jam,” “’John Johnny,” and “Prison Shanks” (which is about a women’s prison—yes, this band has a sense of humor in addition to an affinity for retro pulp culture). “You would need to see us live to understand the [band], but I think the new record captures it more—you could listen to it and get a good idea of what the band’s all about,” points out McFarland.
So far, it all seems to be working. Despite their tough rock’n’roll sound and intensity onstage, the foursome are more likely to be giggling over some joke than getting carted off to jail in their downtime. “It feels like a constant sleepover where you can just hang out with your friends,” McFarland said of the band’s cross-country tour this past spring, adding, “We all have a very similar sense of humor and quirks, so we all get along really well. It’s been really fun!”