The cognitive dissonance you will experience with this acerbic album is that the guitarist is the co-creator of Portlandia. The cognitive dissonance I experience is that I can’t believe this came out as late as 1995. That’s for a couple of reasons. First, I just thought the band’s timeline was earlier, yet here they are with their debut album in 1995. I had assumed their second album, which came out in early 1996 and which I own, was more like their fourth. Second, this stands firmly in the riot grrrl genre and sounds a ton like Babes In Toyland and fellow Olympians Bikini Kill, and I associate that movement very strongly with 1992. I feel like Babes In Toyland’s Fontanelle from 1992 had already moved past this sound somewhat. (On a not quite cognitive dissonance front, but definitely on a WTF note, how was this young punk band from Olympia signed to Chainsaw Records able to go to Melbourne to record this?)
So anyway, riot grrrl. It’s punk, with the ten songs clocking in a total of 22:45. A few songs are right around the minute mark in length. The band does not try to say more than what they have to say, which is really refreshing. And it’s angry. I’m speaking out of turn but maybe it’s not untrue to say riot grrrl is one thread of feminism in the 90’s. These songs all deal with young women, and they are often very angry at at least one man in their songs.
“A Real Man” is a reaction to a guy saying she needs to feel his big dick. “How To Play Dead” scolds an insensitive lover. And “The Last Song” seems to be directed at the perpetrator of a rape against the narrator/singer. Similar to Tori Amos’ “Me And A Gun” but much angrier. Interestingly, I have a really hard time listening to Amos’ song because it’s such an open vein, it just hurts. This is much angrier and vicious and I can handle it a lot better…maybe because it’s closer to how I think I would react/feel?
You can hear a lot of the melodic sense they would develop more robustly on their excellent next album, but this is still very rough. Notably, six of the seven full hearts are the last six tracks on the album, so backloaded with quality.
– “The Day I Went Away,” “How To Play Dead,” “Be Yr Mama,” “Sold Out,” “Slow Song,” “Lora’s Song,” “The Last Song”
– “Don’t Think You Wanna,” “A Real Man,” “Her Again”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Don’t Think You Wanna – still finding their feet in a lot of ways here. I hear this as a band with no voice wanting to be Bikini Kill
- The Day I Went Away – better here. More of their melodic sense.
- A Real Man – 64 seconds. what lyrics. A big F.U. to a guy who says she needs to feel his big dick.
- Her Again –
- How To Play Dead –
- Be Yr Mama –
- Sold Out – 1:16
- Slow Song – 2:00
- Lora’s Song –
- The Last Song – so obviously and painfully about a rape. Almost like death metal singing. 3:37! Wow, an epic.