If you were picking one band to tackle the clusterfuck that is planet earth in 2019, Petrol Girls would be more than a solid shout.
The snarling, feisty, punky post-hardcore mob have spent the last few years ripping up stages, spitting venom and winning fans wherever they go. They wear their heart on their sleeve, living and breathing everything you’d expect a political punk band to do.
Their last record – 2016’s Talk of Violence – was a rager; chunky riffs sitting under memorable slogans that were vital and empowering. Lead single ‘Touch Me Again’ proved an instant classic with crowds everywhere.
But the world has moved on. You need more than a quick line to make change happen. Your arguments need depth, nuance and a few different approaches to cut through. Impressively, on this new record, Petrol Girls have managed to translate exactly that into their songs and the result is a wonderful, angry and meaningful album.
Make no mistake, the Austrian/British quartet still slams on Cut & Stitch. The treble on their guitars stab you all over, and their pounding rhythm section still hits like a brick to the face.
But there’s a real progression in how they’ve gone about things here. They’ve used the recording studio as an instrument – not being afraid to experiment with sounds and structures – while singer Ren Aldridge has put in quite the shift, both lyrically and in terms of her actual performance. She is utterly captivating as a storyteller, a campaign leader and a bloody brilliant punk singer.
What is most apparent, though, is what great strides Petrol Girls have made as songwriters. ‘The Sound’, ‘Big Mouth’ and ‘Talk In Tongues’ are all marvellous, roaring anthems that deserve to be heard by as many people as possible.
Songs like ‘Rootless’ show a more sombre, progressive-leaning side, and one they pull off admirably – Petrol Girls are about far more than white hot heat.
Another marker of Petrol Girls’ progression is how they weave in the feminist angle that has long driven them; they are a self-proclaimed feminist post-hardcore band after all.
As Aldridge writes in an introduction to the record, “Feminism has become more of an overall approach than an obvious topic, seeping into the way we think about everything from the environment to mental health.”
Rather than just dropping in a load of empowering choruses, on Cut & Stitch Petrol Girls have simply and effortlessly let their politics run through the entire record and drive every single song.
They’ve been able to extend the scope of their feminism and make it relevant to every aspect of your life. It gives it even more clout and makes the band that has written it sound utterly confident and comfortable.
Cut & Stitch doesn’t just feel like a terrific album – which it is – it feels like the soundtrack for a movement. In 2019, it is vital listening.
Cut & Stitch will be released on May 24th on Hassle Records.