Kill Your Darlings
My cousins have a pair of little fluffy pet rabbits. Their names are Hopper and Sawdust. I mention this because they are the sort of darlings Bitch Alert are talking about. Cute bunnies and small children are some of the innocent creatures who should be kept well away from this record.
Kill Your Darlings is Bitch Alert's third album, and it's just appeared back home in Finland. But in the UK they're breaking with their second, ..rriot. Their first was Pay For Orgasm - some of the songs from that were incorporated into ..rriot. Which is anyway a re-release, two years old. So there'll be a lot of people like me who will seek out this new disk; will they be getting more of the very impressive same? Well, yes and no...
It's different. The album opens up with the uncompromising attack of Selling Hugs. So, no softening us up first, straight in with the hard stuff. An austere and metronomic thrash with one note vocals, it seems to say they may still be alienated, but they're not so confused any more. Teen time is over. That's followed by a downgearing for Blonde, an uneasy slice of dissatisfaction torn between quiet and anger ...Stop your filthy lies. And then
Late Night Lullaby is a gloriously joyous anthem. If fans don't love this one I'll be amazed. Well, who'd have thought it? They're softie romantics at heart :) It changes your whole perception of what's going on with them. It wasn't two dimensional raging at life's shittiness, it was living life for real and taking it, bad and good too. And in this song, life when it gives you the very best thing ever.
You'll probably skate over the very agitated Bikini on first listening but there's some semi witty stuff going on in there, both in the production with some bits and pieces of sound, and in the lyrics. Another switch of tone after that, for the out and out rock ballad that is City Lights. You'll feel you've heard many songs like this before; but the performance makes it. On first hearing, I thought Heinie had lost some of the vocal range she showed on ..rriot; but wrong, she's broadened out what she does and she can hold a song virtually on her emotional expression alone.
Not to diss the band! I really can't wait to see this material live, with Heinie and Kimmo and Maritta (and Marko!) on the sort of form they were in last week. Doing Excuse For Escape for instance. I love this one too, with its powerful chorus, You make me so scared of myself This time I feel I could kill someone... Hmm, trouble is, like a lot of Bitch Alert songs, you might not want to be caught singing them out loud. Parents! Let them off, if you find your kids getting into Bitch Alert, trust me, this music does them good, better than vitamins anyway. Like Where's My Happiness, bizarrely it's one of the happiest things here, triumphant and upbeat. And Psycho Drama Queen, magnificent and epic, has a monumental presence at the heart of the album, quite a surprise to find it's only three and a half minutes. Just one track extends its time, the last one, Popguns, but it works nicely.
I love this picture (left), from the cd booklet. I stared at it, wondering how they did it. Cause they weren't hanging upside down were they. You can make your hair go stiff can't you, with a spray or something? Anyway, cool pose, and I like what they've done to the colours. Great sock!
I can't wait to see how it's marketed. There is one obviously catchy song on the album, the innocuously titled My Boy. Unfortunately it does happen to be one long stream of obscene invective (I've always wanted to say that!), the like of which you'd only otherwise hear in my car in heavy traffic, so whether they'll give it radio play I wouldn't care to say. I gather that her problem is that her boyfriend fancies her best friend. Always difficult, that one, those things usually end in tears.
Room for another ballad, At The Cinema, with touches of poignant romance. Poignant yeah it's funny how this tone of nostalgia comes through in several songs, it's not something you really hear on ..rriot. It's almost melancholic, except that I don't think Bitch Alert do depression. There's some sharp observation in Birthday Girl; then finally Popguns, moody and grand and reflective, with its long fadeout. A small criticism - I'd have liked to read Heinie's lyrics, there's so much goodness going on, they could have been usefully included (update - I've found the lyrics here - further update: agh, the link's disappeared - all pretty good, I liked Bikini best I think - I didn't realise how so much of the album was about trading sex, one way or another).
I hope the critics don't weigh in with accusations of lack of originality, that sort of line. Listen to it and sure, it doesn't create a new genre, sure, it comes from the metal and punk and grunge bedrock, and sure, you'll hear traces of everything and anything from Zeppelin to god knows you choose it, Cooper Temple Clause? And all that means is that they've listened and learnt. But these songs are their own, the musical crafting and the art and the lyrics and the emotion are theirs. One thing is important, that it's genuine and comes from them. The form of the music might be familiar but this band's music lives and breathes with its own emotion and angry slices of life. And Heinie is a rock genius. My favourite moment? Ah yes, there is one, just like in ..rriot where Heinie does that yelp screech in Monday; there are lots of good moments in Kill Your Darlings, but my vote goes to one in Excuse For Escape, there's a silent beat before the last chorus, and she goes "Oh". I know! You just have to hear it.
I'm glad I played Kill Your Darlings for a while, gave it time to sink in, before writing. There's less reliance on the pop hook, much more of a heavier dynamic. It's as if ..rriot, energetic and frenzied and chock full of hooks as it is, was only teen metal compared with this. Not that I'd want to accuse this of being grown up ha ha :) This is assured and tough, blimey I can't imagine where they'll be if they keep improving. ..rriot was becoming my record of the year, I'd been playing it that much. Not any more. Talk about shock and awe, I'm stunned by this album. This is excellent rock music.
26 September 2004
And here is the Stupido Records site, ie. the record company and store of that guy I met at the Finnish Showcase in Manchester on Monday. Which is where I bought Kill Your Darlings from - it came amazingly fast, at a reasonable price too.