Rock music is dead they say, and one glance at the charts or a festival lineup might lead you to believe the same thing. Funny that when I look for a rock album to listen to I can always find loads of good stuff, usually sung by women – from Honeyblood to Bully to Lucy Dacus to this new album SNAFU from alternative punk pop queens Potty Mouth. Rock music is alive and it still sounds fucking great.
I saw Potty Mouth support Chvrches in New York a few years ago and someone I was with said they looked like a band I could have been in when I was a teenager. I took that to be a compliment since this group of women were a cool mix of styles who in another lifetime would be the next big thing. They were in fact signed to a major label but things went wrong, proving how tough things are for bands like this in the mainstream. They are a gutsy all girl rock band made up of members Abby Weems (vocals/guitar), Ally Einbinder (bass), and Victoria Mandanas (drums) with decidedly 90s influences.
This album is released on their own Get Better Records (run by bassist Ally Einbinder and her partner Alex Licktenhour). Independence gives them freedom to do whatever the hell they want, without worrying about trends or expectations. This album just blasts out of the gates with Do It Again introducing their pulsating sound. The simplicity of the lyrics on the surface hides an uncertain undertow. Influences like Garbage and Bikini Kill inform the music but Potty Mouth sound fresh.
Much of this album is about finding yourself and growing up. On 22 they address the theme of change and how it feels to really adult. It’s catchy as hell and I can almost hear the moshpit in the background through my tinny iPhone. If this was 1995 I would be getting crushed down the front with happy abandon during this song. The youthful energy of rock and roll thankfully never gets old (even if its listeners sometimes do). Massachusetts is about the need to escape the place you grew up and hey we all know how that feels.
Starry Eyes begins quieter, digging deep into doomed love. When the chorus kicks in it smashes your heart into a million pieces. The poppier elements of these songs are heightened on Fencewalker, written with their hero Gina Schlock of the GoGos. It’s filled with catchy girl group oohs and some nicely crushing guitars. Smash Hit, explores the ridiculous nature of the music industry and you can hear the sarcasm dripping from every note. It’s fun to hear all the idiotic sound bites turned into a catchy three minute rock song, even if they probably went through a lot of unnecessary shit to get there.
The more ragged garage rock of Dog Song is a nice contrast with some of the glossier sounds heard elsewhere on the record. They finish with a snarl and a scream on Bottom Feeder, and the mix of venom and vulnerability in these songs makes them easy to fall in love with.
Snafu is thirty minutes of irresistible hooks and a lot of heart. Get this ultra special, ultra fantastic album now.