It’s refreshing that, in 2016, the stereotype that punk is simply a boys’ club has finally been combatted by numerous female-fronted bands making their mark. Bands like Petrol Girls, Youth Man, Muncie Girls and more have sprung up all over the musical landscape and left an impression with fantastic releases, but few have made as assertive a claim as Kamikaze Girls. Looking at their background, it makes a lot of sense – the duo both hold steadfast feminist beliefs with frontwoman Lucinda Livingstone running the Ladyfuzz Zine dedicated to women in music, while debut EP Sad is the latest step in their vehement desire to extinguish the stigma around mental illness.
So putting all that into consideration, it’s a bit strange that Sad feels a tad patchier than some of their contemporaries’ output. Kamikaze Girls’ roots are entrenched more in the early ’90s riot grrrl movement, and while the intention is completely nailed throughout, the execution could do with some sprucing up. The distortion that’s caked on Stitches‘ guitars aims for a psychedelic sound but does quite gel with the track’s more staccato moments, and though the shoegaze-esque jangle of Ladyfuzz is better, it still feels like a disparate part when put alongside most of this EP.
To give Kamikaze Girls credit though, the picking and choosing of sounds outside of the traditional punk wheelhouse at least shows that the genre’s traditional vitality and unpredictability is present on Sad. The best example is Black Coffee, drawing on feedback-sodden garage rock with Livingstone at her most raw and vocally free. It definitely sees the duo at the most unhinged, and though they’re a much tighter proposition elsewhere, Sad packs in its fair share of thrills, like the buzzsaw guitar work of Hexes or the stone-forged grunge of I Hate Funerals which shows a near-perfect synergy between Livingstone and drummer Connor Dawson at creating a bleak, deeply oppressive atmosphere.
It’s moments like this that show that Kamikaze Girls certainly know what they’re doing, but there’s still work to be done. As a debut, Sad has everything the band need to build on to become a true force – there’s rawness and an interesting sound, one that holds a genuinely worthwhile message. Largely, Sad represents the crystallisation of Kamikaze Girls’ ethos; the next step is to take it as far as it can go.
For fans of: Milk Teeth, L7, Sleater-Kinney
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Sad’ by Kamikaze Girls is released on 2nd September on Bearded Punk Records / Wiretrap Records.