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Bitch Alert

grey version of coverPink red angry, this is my favourite Bitch Alert album cover. I like the graphic style with the stencilled lettering and the cut out band figures, especially Heinie, doing an excellent Kevinette comedy angry teen pose. And the fold out leaflet opens out to show a superb graphic on one side, of lots of live shots composited together, all in bloody red, and with a single phrase scratched in the centre: God Only Likes The Good Girls.

It can be hard, judging a first album when you first come to it after getting into two later ones. Because it's new to you, you expect more of the wonderful same, but being a first album, you're either going to get typical promising-but-not-quite-there material, or all the various qualities which go along with a band still finding their feet. Well, when this album was made they had found their feet and were stamping them in fury.

The production's not so tight and confident, and you can measure that from the three songs we know from later versions. In particular God Doesn't like Me, which is almost tentative and lacks the bite it has on ..rriot. Loveson is a bit messier than the later version as well. But I'm biased, it's never quite worked for me, though I'm well aware it's one of their favourite numbers and Heinie likes to use it as a gig closer, putting down her guitar and belting out the climax. Monday comes out best of these three, it's kept short and sweet and it's an enjoyable alternative to ..rriot's version and the single. Listening to it right now... you know they can make as many versions of this song as they like as far as I'm concerned

Where was I oh yes the rest of the material, the other 11 songs. For me the best stuff clocks in at around two minutes. Or less, like Kiss Me, which kicks off with a nice fuzz. And Daniel, which has a nice counterplay between moderate verse and venomous chorus. She tells us that Daniel sucks, in no uncertain terms. In The School shows what much of this record is like - tunewise it hits the same riff and doesn't move on but it doesn't let up on commitment and bite. What I'm saying is, it feels very good but also not so sure. In some songs there's a tendency to ramble, like on Joe Has Been a Bad Boy. This isn't too bad a song, except for the start which is horribly Tap. If you had a few pints down you, you wouldn't notice the time drag by much, but when you came to, you'd wonder if anything new had happened. The lyrics are a bit adolescent - 'P$$$star' - but I guess that's okay, since they were teenagers at the time. What keeps you listening is the energy the humour and the noise.

Some interesting and satisfying stuff. The interest comes from the random hard rock and punk influences showing up in various songs, though it also makes for weakness too, when it's slightly imitative and you think of the more coherent identity evident in Kill Your Darlings. Sometimes they're still only a poor man's Metallica (Homophobia is responsible for that comment) ...though that could well be your bag. I sort of want to say something similar about the other strength of the band, which is Heinie's voice. It's definitely the most striking thing about the band, but they know it, and tend to overuse it, the deep throat scream that is. Several of these songs rely on it too much.

Unlike the last epic effort, Psychosis. Despite what I said about short songs, this is six minutes of tense and disturbed emotion... a more complex tune which offers an effective balanced range of her vocal, right along to some whispered mad backtalk. Some of the electronic twitterings irritate me a bit, but after the brutal primal start of Monday, it's an impressive ending for the album.

Marketing can be aggravating. Several of these songs would have held up very well on tour this year; but they weren't selling this album were they? Nevertheless it's a good effort, I'll mark it B- and suggest that if you've been won over by the later albums you won't be unhappy spending your hard earned on this.

19 November 2004


Bitch Alert - ..rriot! - Kill Your Darlings - I Can Feel Your Bones