Once you are lumped up within a certain genre, as an artist you have two choices – try to keep up the image and play along making music that strictly fits the genre, or try to be more imaginative and see if you can stretch beyond the strictly defined genre parameters. Los Angeles quartet Cuffed Up was formed back in 2019 by the guitar/vocals duo of Ralph Torrefranca and Sapphire Jewell including bassist Vic Ordonez and drummer Joe Liptock. Wherever you look for a description of their music, you run into one – post-punk.
With Asymmetry, their latest four-song EP, Cuffed Up doesn’t simply want to play along with that description. Sure enough, they exhibit a high level of energy and their guitar capabilities are up to that level too. Yet Torrefranca, Jewell, and their two cohorts obviously try to stretch themselves a bit further beyond post-punk and expand into other territories.
On the opener ‘Bonnie’ the dual guitar interplay and dual vocals go into the category of hard-edged indie-pop with excellent results. ‘Terminal,’ the title track and its accompanying video deal with Torrefranca’s health issues. The song is like putting a fine pop polish on Sonic Youth at their most commercial. On the other hand, ‘Canaries’ picks up on where Nirvana left off and adds a Kim Gordon touch along the way. ‘One By One’, on the other hand, is just a single step cooler without losing the energy the band built along the way, exhibiting excellent pop senses that are present within the band.
Throughout, Ordonez and Liptock’s rhythm section doesn’t miss a beat behind Torrefranca’s and Jewell’s excellent guitar vocal interplay taking Cuffed Up much further than the set post-punk definition. It also comes with great results.