It's the sick, sick fuzz bass on "Check Level" that will get you first. (Who doesn't love fuzz bass?) Then the military-marching drums come in, the cheerleader-chant verses get the blood pumping, and the chorus smokes your ears you're hooked before you even realize that the Rogers Sisters may have come up with the best protest song of 2004.
"Why struggle! Why put up a fight? Don't you want to keep your enemies at bay / One, two! One by one, overcome the mightiest sword this way."
For three and a half minutes, "Check Level" sends a hot spike of punked-up pop music straight to the part of the brain that's been taken over by terror alerts, Swift-boat ads and IsBushWired.com. (Staying ahead of the curve, the Rogers Sisters had put Dubya on the cover of their 2002 album, Purely Evil.) The biggest drag about Three Fingers, then, is that there are only 18 other minutes, total! Brevity is cool and all get in, say it, get out but your new album shouldn't be able to fit on a seven-inch.
The guitars, at least, have been beefed up since the debut, but aside from "Check Level," the best songs on Three Fingers stick closest to the annoying-but-accurate shorthand description "B-52's gone Brooklyn." On "The Secrets of Civilization," Jennifer and Laura Rogers' descending harmonies conjure Kate-and-Cindy beehive dreams "go down" stretches into "go dowwww-oww-ow-own." Bassist Miyuki Furtado sounds more in command of his vocals than on Purely Evil, but in retrospect that album's barked-out rants, like "Calculator," may have more personality and punch.
Three Fingers has one full-on flop among its seven tracks "Fantasies Are Nice" might be eligible for a prize as the 1,000,000th song to rail against "SUVs" and "big-screen TVs." None of the other songs push the needle into the red like "Check Level," but they have their moments of abandon. "You Won't Believe It" and "45 Prayers" bring the singsongy garage bop, and "Five Months," one of the Rogers Sisters' only slow-tempo tracks, casts a moody spell with washes of organ and static. More? Please?