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Perfect Pussy: Say Yes To Love

Just as you should never judge a book by its cover, nor should you judge a band by its name, and here come Syracuse noise-punks Perfect Pussy with their much-anticipated debut album Say Yes To Love to demonstrate exactly why not. If their Google-unfriendly moniker helped generate considerable amounts of publicity for last year’s I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling demo cassette, the five-piece also risked alienating a substantial section of their potential audience who might have assumed without even listening that they were either a bunch of juvenile sexist jocks or shock-rockers trying too hard to be controversial. Even knowing the story behind it – a middle finger to small-minded haters following a once-and-for-all executive decision by front-woman Meredith Graves to embrace and celebrate her own body, so-called “flaws” and all – there’s no escaping the fact that Perfect Pussy is a bad name, but luckily it isn’t the group’s only attention-grabbing feature: there are other reasons why Graves and company became 2013’s biggest buzz band, chief among them the singer herself. A tightly-wound ticking time bomb, the 26 year old is a magnetic presence, delivering her vocals in a forceful but melodic sing-speak-shout style pitched somewhere between Riot Grrrl and Rollins, and whilst layers of distortion and scuzzy, in-the-red production render most of the lyrics pretty much unintelligible Graves is nonetheless about as easy to ignore as a cop with a megaphone and an armed response unit behind him commanding you to get on your knees or be shot. Making a similarly fearsome racket, the rest of the band provide Graves with a brick wall of sound on which to bloody her knuckles, guitars and synth wailing like air raid sirens, sheets of fuzzy brown noise billowing violently as the rhythm section drives them all headlong through a wind tunnel of precision-tooled stop-start math-rock dynamics. It’s musique concrete by way of Fugazi and At The Drive-In, hardcore with a hint of Hawkwind, a mixture of blunt, blown-out brutality and heart-swelling major-chord melody, and it’s absolutely breathtaking. One small complaint: consisting of just eight songs, the album is over and done in 23 minutes (including three minutes of palette-cleansing ambient hum at the end of the penultimate “Advance Upon The Real”), and I’m pretty sure nobody would have minded too much if they’d included the four tracks from last year’s tape to push the running time past the half-hour mark. Then again, such all-out intensity does lend itself to brevity, and whilst Say Yes To Love burns quickly, it also burns incredibly bright. Even if it’s delivered too fast and too loud to discern the exact wording, the gist of the message is clear: this is inspired, inspiring music borne from grabbing the moment, from pulling positives out of negative situations, from reaching the conclusion that we should take every opportunity to make ourselves and those we love happy. The old guard can rest easy: there are new keepers of the punk rock flame, and they have pockets stuffed with firebombs.

Say Yes To Love is out March 18 via Captured Tracks; listen to “Interference Fits” and “Driver” below, and stream the album in full at NPR.
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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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