Public Strain

Public Strain is the second and final album by Canadian rock band Women. The album was produced by Chad VanGaalen.[1] It was released in 2010 on VanGaalen's Flemish Eye record label in Canada, and on Jagjaguwar in the United States.

Public Strain
Women Public Strain.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 28, 2010
ProducerChad VanGaalen
Women chronology
Public Strain

Two songs on the album are direct references to the artist Ray Johnson: "Locust Valley" is the name of the town where Johnson lived in New York. "Venice Lockjaw" is a phrase Johnson incorporated in pins that he gave away at the 1990 Venice Biennale. Johnson was also referenced on Women's 2008 self-titled album; "Sag Harbour Bridge" refers to the location where Johnson committed suicide in 1995.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [4]
The Boston Phoenix    [5]
Drowned in Sound8/10[6]
Mojo     [7]
The Skinny     [11]
Uncut     [13]

Public Strain was released to critical acclaim.[3]

Exclaim! placed Public Strain at number 10 on its list of the best Pop & Rock Albums of 2010, with critic Brock Thiessen writing that "Public Strain showed that rock'n'roll can still offer shock and awe."[14] Pitchfork placed it at number 47 on its list of The Top 50 Albums of 2010.[15] The album was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.[16]

Legacy & influenceEdit

Sputnikmusic's staff ranked it the 3rd best album of the decade, calling it "a remarkably ageless album, existing out of time or of capital m Movement, existing in its own category."[17] Gorilla vs. Bear and Tiny Mix Tapes ranked it the 31st and 77th best album of the decade respectively.[18][19] Exclaim! named it one of the 50 best Canadian albums of the decade.[20] Tim Sentz of Beats Per Minute called the album a cult classic in 2020, and wrote: "[J]ust like the band who influenced them the most – The Velvet Underground – it’s likely every aspiring musician who bought Public Strain and adored it, went out and started their own band."[21] Writing for Medium, Anton Astudillo noted: "[P]ost-punk in the 2000s lacked the unpredictability that Public Strain offered. Most of the genre’s sound at that time might have been under the influence of The Strokes or Interpol’s New York garage rock, a totally different style of punk compared to the more experimental blend of fringe genres found in the 2010s."[22]

Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr named it one of her 10 favorite albums of the decade.[23] Bradford Cox of Deerhunter named the album his favorite "lost classic", stating: "They were very advanced instrumentally. I don’t understand how they came up with those guitar parts; I couldn’t come up with music like that if my life depended on it. I think they had a bizarrely huge impact on the younger groups coming up now."[24] Ian Russel of Flemish Eye - the label that had released the album originally - reflected upon the album's legacy in the light of Women's subsequent breakup:[25]

It was not exactly easy material to get into, particularly at the time when there wasn’t really an appetite or audience for that. We were going down that road of trying to do that, which I thought would be a long-time thing, when it all imploded. So it was both a story about us being excited about a record, and manufacturing quite a few copies of it, and not seeing it come to fruition because two months later it wasn’t being talked about anymore. The band wasn’t touring. The story was over. It had its impact more as a long-term influence on other artists.

Track listingEdit

1."Can't You See"3:41
2."Heat Distraction"4:05
3."Narrow With the Hall"2:37
4."Penal Colony"2:39
6."China Steps"4:22
8."Drag Open"4:53
9."Locust Valley"4:15
10."Venice Lockjaw"2:48
Total length:42:18


  1. ^ Breihan, Tom (June 10, 2010). "Women Announce Second Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  2. ^ "Public Strain by Women reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Reviews for Public Strain by Women". Metacritic. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  4. ^ Lymangrover, Jason. "Public Strain – Women". AllMusic. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  5. ^ Grimes, Michael (September 30, 2010). "Women | Public Strain". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  6. ^ Lukowski, Andrzej (August 27, 2010). "Album Review: Women – Public Strain". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on May 23, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  7. ^ "Women: Public Strain". Mojo (202): 96. September 2010.
  8. ^ Wright, Lisa (August 23, 2010). "Album review: Women – 'Public Strain' (Jagjaguwar)". NME. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  9. ^ Leitko, Aaron (September 30, 2010). "Women: Public Strain". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  10. ^ Kloke, Joshua (November 23, 2010). "Women: Public Strain". PopMatters. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  11. ^ Buckle, Chris (July 26, 2010). "Women – Public Strain". The Skinny. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  12. ^ Cohen, Ian (November 3, 2010). "Women, 'Public Strain' (Jagjaguwar)". Spin. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  13. ^ "Women: Public Strain". Uncut (161): 114. October 2010.
  14. ^ "Pop & Rock Year in Review". Exclaim!.
  15. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2010 | Features". Pitchfork. 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
  16. ^ "2011 Polaris Music Prize Long List announced" Archived 2015-10-02 at the Wayback Machine., June 16, 2011.
  17. ^ "Sputnikmusic - Top 100 Albums of the 2010s: #10-1 « Staff Blog". Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ "Exclaim!'s 50 Best Canadian Albums of the 2010s". Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  21. ^ Sentz, Tim (2020-10-08). "Second Look: Women – Public Strain | Beats Per Minute". Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  22. ^ Astudillo, Anton (2020-08-19). "10 Years Later: Women's Public Strain". Medium. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  23. ^ "The 2010s: Artists Pick Their Top 10 Albums of the Decade". FLOOD. Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  24. ^ "Foo Fighters, The Killers, St Vincent - 30 Huge Artists On Their Favourite 'Lost' Albums | NME". NME | Music, Film, TV, Gaming & Pop Culture News. 2014-09-19. Retrieved 2021-02-05.
  25. ^ "The great implosion: A look back at the strange history of Women's Public Strain". calgaryherald. Retrieved 2021-02-05.

External linksEdit