Monday, November 07, 2016

Album Review :: Petrol Girls - Talk Of Violence

Petrol Girls

Talk Of Violence

November 18 2016 (Bomber Music) 


Words: Richard O’Hagan

A few weeks ago, I was watching an episode of the television show ‘First Dates’ and one of the participants stated that they were in ‘…a Riot Grrrl band called The Menstrual Cramps’. At the time I didn’t know what to be more amused by, the brilliantly awful name, or the fact that, a quarter of a century on, new bands still felt the need to identify themselves with the Kathleen Hanna-led movement that led to women-only gigs, L7 and members of Huggy Bear heckling Terry Christian on live television.

I guess that, had the London/Hamburg-based hardcore punks Petrol Girls existed back in the early 1990s, they might have identified themselves as a part of the Riot Grrl genre, too. The truth is, though, that they would be doing themselves a disservice if they did. One of the characteristics – or perhaps one should say perceived characteristics – of Riot Grrrl was a lack of musical finesse.

That isn’t an allegation that can be laid at Petrol Girls’ door. At their best, they combine the power and urgency of Enter Shikari with the fury and political righteousness of early, Frank Carter-era, Gallows. At their most melodic, such as on closer ‘Rewild’, they actually evoke none other than the darkly brooding music of Melissa Auf Der Maur. It is a potent cocktail and one which, unlike some of those just mentioned, seems to have perfectly captured their live sound, too.
Right from the opening lines of ‘False Peace’ it is apparent that you are dealing with an intensely political band, who preach pacifism through disorder and rebellion. The ‘they’re trying to build more warships’ refrain of ‘Treading Water’ has eerie echoes of the sort of material that made the likes of Elvis Costello and Billy Bragg famous, but done in a much punkier way. The brute force of the music is occasionally matched by the words, such as when Ren Aldridge sings ‘I want to spit a pin between your eyes’ at the start of ‘Deflate’.

A lot of what Petrol Girls want to talk about, though, is sexual politics. ‘Harpy’ deals with empowering women; the visceral ‘Touch Me Again’ has an obvious theme which is dealt with in an equally forthright way. It is an area which is much dealt with in other forms of music, but nothing like the sense of outrage that Aldridge can muster.

As they state on current single ‘Phallocentric’, Petrol Girls are here to ‘unleash disorder from what they’ve taught us’. More power to them.

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