Raw, righteous, and a rallying cry against pervasive capitalist and patriarchal oppression: The Menstrual Cramps‘ sophomore album Free Bleedin’ drips with irrepressible anarchy and wit. Following 2017’s excellently named debut We’re Not Ovaryacting, the four-piece have returned with fourteen new tracks that systematically strip away the hateful forces that threaten to hold these riot grrrls back.
Front-woman Emilia has a vocal range that ricochets between dangerous, disinterested, screeching and savage. From opening track ‘Boycott The Lot’, she begins calling out corporations including The Sun, Amazon, and the dairy industry; whilst urging listeners to avoid all interaction with these dishonest establishments. She’s backed by the formidable Cooper Rose on guitar, as well as the equally formidable rhythm section comprised of drummer Beth and bassist Robyn.
Intelligence and piss-taking combine in memorable style on second track ‘The Smash’, which calls for a political and personal revolution amidst lyrics such as “Theresa May don’t even masturbate”. The girls continue their take down on following track ‘Neo Nazi’, which acts as a warning and a defiant middle finger to any fans of punk music who confuse the genre with outdated, fascist ideals. As Emilia so aptly says: “Nazi cunts need to disappear” – and we couldn’t agree more.
Up next on The Menstrual Cramps’ “bullshit we shouldn’t have to address, but will do anyway” list is toxic masculinity. On ‘Boyz Will Be Boyz’, the girls urge men to take responsibility for sexual assault and “do something about it”, instead of hiding behind the all-to-familiar saying and remaining complacent. What follows is an unorthodox and unexpected ode to long-haired, liberal lads and lasses. On the pop-ier sounding ‘Long Haired Babe’, Emilia delightfully declares “guys with long hair make me scream, guys with long hair make me cream”. That’s the great thing about this record: one minute you want to punch a hole through a patriarchal wall, and the next you just want to lay back and show yourself some sweet self-love.
Cue next track, ‘Mutual Masturbation’. It’s as fabulous and filthy as it sounds; celebratory (guitar) strums and raucous percussion combine with Emilia’s lyrics about defying shame and spending some time on yourself. The girls dial up the sarcasm on ‘I Like That Top’, a track which laments the comments made by dull housemates who insist on making passive aggressive remarks about your lifestyle and fashion sense. The band switch back to full on assault mode on ‘Idols’, calling out the inadequacies of the biggest icons in the industry and stripping them of their God-like status. It’s eye-opening and entertaining in equal measure, with trademark Menstrual Cramps bite.
Guitarist Cooper takes lead vocals on the seemingly tender-sounding ‘Tinder Girl’ which tackles a very modern dating dilemma: “I don’t want nothing serious, but I think I want more than this”, before the self-explanatory ‘Tory Scum’ kicks in. It’s a punishing anthem about the policies crippling the working class under Theresa May’s Government. It bleeds in to the aptly named ‘Killin Us’, which shouts back against poor mental health services that have inevitably been affected by Tory budget cuts to the NHS. Things get a bit Orwellian on ‘Phone Hack’, but the severity of the message is made more palatable by a garage-pop-esque rhythm.
Penultimate track ‘No Means No’ challenges male entitlement and bodily autonomy. Emilia’s spoken word style lyrics about consent, rape, and sexual assault make things crystal clear here, and her vicious and wailing delivery of “Nooooooo!” towards the close of the song leaves no room for interpretation. Body positivity is promoted on closing track ‘Bush’ which champions natural hair growth with the simple lyric “let my bush be free!”. Bleedin’ furious, Bleedin’ funny, and Bleedin’ eye opening; The Menstrual Cramps latest record provides the perfect soundtrack for any feminist activist to rage and recover to.
You can listen to Free Bleedin’ on Spotify
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