A vivid exploration of maternal relationships, enduring grief, and coping with the many faceted mental health issues encountered along the way; Le Butcherettes‘ new album bi/MENTAL is a potent infusion of almighty vocals, hefty guitar riffs, and commanding percussion. Released via Rise Records, the band’s fourth album was produced by Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison (No Doubt, Violent Femmes, KD Lang) and recorded at his home studio in Northern California.
Cited as their most personal album to date, bi/MENTAL is an ode to frontwoman Teri Gender Bender’s mother. She states that with the aid of producer Jerry, she was able to be “vulnerable and in-your-face at the same time” and that freedom permeates bi/MENTAL. Opener ‘spider/WAVES’ is six minutes of off-kilter unhinged sound, dominated by Teri’s trademark falsetto vocals and accompanied by spoken word from Dead Kennedys’ front man, Jello Biafra. It leads in to the knockout ‘give/UP’ lamenting the struggles surrounding grief. The opening line paints a morbid picture – “I’ve been putting off for days / a visitation to your grave” – but Teri’s passionate delivery and the infectious, rolling rhythms make this track a real blood-pumping tune that’s hard to sit still to.
‘strong/ENOUGH’ is an anthem of defiance and acceptance – “I’m not the kind of girl you thought I was” – whilst ‘father/ELOHIM’ explores a narrative of reckless behaviour and freedom. ‘little/MOUSE’ follows, before the scratchy nostalgic opening of ‘in/THE END’ breaks through, developing in to a retrospective ballad about faithlessness. A seething, buzzing bass line dominates ‘nothing/BUT TROUBLE’, whilst the sultry vocals of Chilean vocalist Mon Laferte take centre stage on ‘la/SANDÍA’.
Gritty guitar and psych-tinged keys meet on ‘struggle/STRUGGLE’ where pain and grief culminate in a speaking-in-tongues outro from Teri. ‘dressed/IN A MATTER OF SPEECH’ follows, before the unsettling screams and screeches of ‘mothers/HOLDS’ conquer the next three minutes of the record. Featuring the vocals of Alice Bag, ‘mothers/HOLDS’ is an example of the dark magic that’s conjured when two assertive, defiant women come together to create art.
The heady, mesmeric sounds on the penultimate ‘sand/MAN’ are followed by closing track ‘/BREATH’. It has a gentle opening, with slow guitar and a child-like voice sample interrupting intermittently like an old memory, but that’s swiftly discarded around the two minute mark. The track kicks back in in true raucous Le Butcherettes fashion, closing the record on a willful, assertive note.
Inspired by the “the death of a living mother”, the duality of life, and the inevitable strife caused by the fluctuation of mental health; Le Butcherettes bi/MENTAL is a cathartic burst of emotional rock music designed to clear the cobwebs between your ears.