Petrol Girls are not for the faint of heart. The London formed, Austrian based four-piece have built a sound that is both explosive and detailed, with strong social messages put forward in their lyrics. Influenced by bands like Fugazi, Bikini Kill, Propaghandi and Refused, Petrol Girls’ debut album Talk of Violence continues a tradition of raised-fist musical defiance that’s especially relevant in the current climate.
First and foremost Petrol Girls are a feminist group, and this is made very clear on their debut. Formed for a show on International Women’s Day in 2012, the band are fronted by vocalist Ren Aldridge, who draws on personal experiences to ridicule and challenge sexism and explore political themes. Talk of Violence’s lead single “Phallocentric” rages against the expectation that sex roles must be heteronormative, and champions the full range of possibilities. While it’s largely a celebration, the track also hones in on the unfair gap between the way men and women’s sex lives are judged. Lines like “I take the shame, take the blame, take the pain,” present themselves as a furious protest. There’s a sly Rolling Stones reference too, with “I can’t get no” twisted into a demand for equality in Aldridge’s mouth. Album track “Touch Me Again” works along the same lines. Here the band campaign for body autonomy, with the repeated line “It’s my body, it’s my choice” carried along on top of sizzling instrumentals that build to a riotous end.
Elsewhere on Talk of Violence, Petrol Girls tackle feelings of alienation and mental health issues. The panicky, stuttering vocals on “Treading Water” feel like a desperate attempt to catch a breath, and fit well with the lyrics to create a sense of hopelessness. On the flip side, the band take control on “Restless” with howling demands to be made whole set alongside threats and racing guitar riffs. This defiance is key to Petrol Girls’ sound. They are by turns manic and desperate, but always uncompromising. In a time when the future seems to be growing more uncertain and less kind by the day, hardcore acts like Petrol Girls could prove vital to alternative music fans.
Release: 18th November 2016, Bomber Music