First issued independently on the Boston-based singer/songwriter’s own label, Jennifer Trynin’s Cockamamie was released nationally in June 1995, at precisely the same time as Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. This was initially a good thing: Trynin’s smart, self-sufficient-woman rock songs were reviewed favorably next to Morissette’s jilted-lover rants, and many critics wrote that Trynin was the one to watch. Then Morissette’s single “You Oughta Know” clicked and pretty soon Trynin was invisible.
That’s a shame, because Cockamamie (recorded as a trio with a rhythm section) is a vital, astonishingly mature debut, full of defiantly hooky power pop kept in check by an endless supply of surly asides and Trynin’s ear for bitter blues-soaked recrimination. The syrup-slow “Too Bad You’re Such a Loser” finds Trynin enumerating all the ways a potential lover is inadequate; in “Happier,” she asks “Aren’t you the guy who robbed the Store 24?/Maybe the fuck who tried to jimmy my door?” Trynin may have a scrawny little voice, but like Matthew Sweet, she writes melodies that flatter her limited range and sings them with a blend of who-cares detachment and I-care conviction that transforms ordinary phrases into extraordinary events.