review: Talk of Violence by Petrol Girls

review by Eloise Bulmer of Music Soup

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From the first line of ‘Talk Of Violence’ you know what Petrol Girls are about. “We will disturb the false peace” screams vocalist Ren Aldridge, disturbing the peace literally and metaphorically. Beginning the song with a field recording of protesters chanting “we shut shit down” at a Sisters Uncut demonstration, the track doesn’t hesitate in getting to the core of what Petrol Girls stand for.

It’s an angry sounding records but doesn’t shy away from melody and good songwriting – the guitar riffs from Joe York and backing vocals from Leipa Kuraitė help to alleviate the causticity that can be found in the bands sound elsewhere and means people will be listening and absorbing what they have to say.

Bands like Petrol Girls who address important social issues in their music are paramount in a society where Brexit won and politicians want to build walls to keep refugees out of the country. The song ‘Treading Water’ is directly about the migrant crisis and the refugee camp in Calais, and  lyrics like “London is dead / Europe is lost” are more important than ever, and are sure to hit home with many listeners who are despairing at the decisions Britain has made.

‘Touch Me Again’ starts with lyrics about consent placed firmly atop a juddering guitar riff that soon heads into more standard rock territory with the lyrics “it’s my body / and my choice” spat with conviction. It’s again another topic that needs to be spoken about to educate and to bring attention to the social, political and legal injustice for victims of rape. The highlight of the track is the outro – “touch me again and I’ll fucking kill you” being screamed over and over by Ren, a sentiment that is clearly sung for passion and a commitment to solving the problem rather than to be topical.

Feminism is a topic that has a thread from beginning to end on this album, from ‘Harpy’ which is about how powerful women have to work against stereotypes to be successful and how even then people will discredit them, to ‘Phallocentric’ which is a song about how men and male power are revered in our society. The use of the lyric “I can’t get no” contrasts harshly with its use in The Rolling Stones’ ’(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, a song with unashamed sexual connotations, and demonstrates how tuned in Petrol Girls are with double standards and sexuality. 

Closing track ‘Rewild’ is the perfect summation of the bands debut album. “Do you wanna be or be seen?” queries Ren, and it’s obvious which she’s chosen. With enough commitment and fury when addressing the issues covered on this 10-track release (and they manage to squeeze in a lot), this is a band that will make a difference with their music whether it’s 1000 people screaming along to their songs at a basement show, or 1000 potential new fans being won over by their fervour and sincerity on stage.

‘Talk of Violence’ is out on Bomber Music on the 18th of November.

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