Bassist Melody Malosh sees sweet tenacity in the lovable girl-next-door for whom this band is named.
Betty Cooper -- Archie's often-outshined would-be-girlfriend -- embodies that startling moment when twitterpated turns to tempersome and doe-eyed gets tough.
Whereas this Ferndale pop/rock quartet isn't competing with any comparable Veronica, per se, it's still carries with it "a lot of guts, musically," said bassist Melody Malosh. "Because it's rock 'n' roll."
Singer/guitarist Annette Barbara's lyrics sound sweet, Malosh admitted, yet pretty blunt and straightforward.
"Even in the mellower moments of a set," said guitarist Kristen Von B., "there's still an intensity about it."
Just as the Breeders did before them, Betty Cooper is galvanizing the sugar-glazed R&B strut of punchy swooning pop ballads of seminal "girl-groups" from the early '60s and accelerating the beat, gingerly griming up the atmosphere and giving a bushel more bristle to the lyrical lash.
Barbara's words come from a wrung, yet resolute soul.
"I want to express what it means to have your heart ripped in half," said Barbara, also an imaginative illustrator whose work envisions colorful, character-filled landscapes both surreal and nostalgic with twists on a soda-fountainy/saturday-morning-cartoon aesthetics. (See her work via Ham-and-Butter at the DIY Street Fair.)
"Annette's songwriting is really the central focus of the band," Von B. said.
Songs carry themes of "coming-of-age as a girl; 'life' from the unique perspective of a girl and that certainly influences the sound," Von B. added.
"If 'girl group' is a genre, then we definitely fall into it, but beyond that, I think our songs are styled to sound like they could've come out years ago," Malosh said, "like they could've been spun by Vince Canova on 89X back in the summer of '94.'"
Barbara agrees that there is somewhat of a throwback to Betty Cooper's sound, but that stems from her taking on lyric writing at the same time she started learning guitar. "So, when I write about what's affecting me, it sometimes sounds like my 12-year-old-self secretly writing songs in the bedroom while staring at her Breeder's CD," Barbara said.
"(Drummer) Dave (Malosh), Kristin and Melody lend their own style to the songs," Barbara said. "That's the best thing about working with great musicians, you let them do their own thing."
Von B. said Barbara's drawings are really fun and creative, but with an edge and always humorous and insightful. "I like to think that Betty Cooper is the audible version of her art work," she said.
Betty Cooper's allure stems simultaneously from the refreshing simplicity of Barbara's signature pop style, and the bolstering brought by the musicality of its members, each with substantial resumes throughout the local rock scene.
"Betty Cooper is a nice change." Malosh said, positing that this is, by comparison to past stints in twisting, tumbling garage rock groups like the Sirens and Gore Gore Girls. "(It's) the most mellow band I've ever been in."
This group of musicians has performed at the DIY Street Fair in the past, known then as the Swamp Sisters, the initial collaboration between Malosh and Barbara that churned softly jangled, dreamy pop nocturnes. With one EP under Swamp Sisters, Betty Cooper has since released a pair of singles and hopes to wrap and release a full length in the coming months.
Von B. and Barbara have contributed time to the planning of DIY since its first year. "I think it's done a good job attaining its goal to showcase talent in the area," Von B. said, "people creating truly original works.
"Ferndale has become an enclave of sorts for those who appreciate independent spirit and expression. That's why the street fair came to be in the first place, to celebrate that."
Betty Cooper plays at 2:45 p.m. on the Metro Times stage on East Troy between the Emory and the Woodward Avenue Brewers.