Petrol Girls | Next Wave

Next Wave Petrol Girls

As far as politics is music goes in recent years, this is one of the best.

Failing to navigate the political minefield has produced some of the worst music we’ve ever heard. Just see that 2016 Le Tigre track ‘I’m With Her’ or those ‘We Are the World’ efforts to show just how tone-deaf and bland things can get. But of course, there’s the flip side of that where it’s possible to capture a political movement or idea so sharply that it inevitably becomes a staple to the movement itself. Petrol Girls deliver that on with this vicious exploration of bodily autonomy on ‘Baby’.

Released in the days following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe Vs. Wade, ‘Baby’ couldn’t have been timed better. It reconciles the violence of systematic stripping of women's human rights with the aggression of their punk predecessors (see L7) to create a jarring rock release that throttles and incites. It’s a testament to the strength of Petrol Girls to write and perform with conviction yet true grounding and understanding of the issues at play. The songs read like manifestos yet are still loaded with hooks, killer riffs and serious rhythm.

The record goes straight for the throat. It wastes no time pointing the finger towards hypocrisy in ‘Preachers’ before launching into one of the best rock hooks of recent years with “I don’t wanna be saved, I guess that I’ll be damned”. The standout by far is ‘Baby I Got An A******’ (censored for Facebook) which is the most direct and provocative the record gets when driving home the message, and it’s also just a killer tune. Otherwise, our highlight to the record is getting domestic violence advocate and expert, Janet Starling, to feature on the record with ‘Fight For Our Lives’ and ‘Violent By Design’. As far as sharing the spotlight, this speaks with far more weight considering the subject matter than pulling any other artist available.

It’s important to draw a comparison to a band like IDLES when considering a record like ‘Baby’. As they’re both operating in loud political spaces, there is an argument to be made that ‘Baby’ is a far more urgent record than anything IDLES have released in the last five years. The songs here have far more direction and punch due to the lived experience and vicarious trauma seething through every crack of the record. I’ve personally found it harder to revisit their music when you have the case here for something to be truly angry about, and not just simply present as a political force. It’s a real shame to see ‘Baby’ not gather the following it rightly deserves as the wider punk scene seems hellbent on progress yet fails to present compelling work (see ‘TANGK’).  When the wider rock community still yearns superficially for Rage Against the Machine, they do so with ignorance of records like 'Baby' that provide the edge with the musical power that so few bands do.

 As far as political music for the 2020s, this will be a crown jewel. 

 ‘Baby’ is Available Now in the Store.

 


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