Although press and public raved about the Girl Power “phenomenon” that was the Spice Girls, there really is no comparison with the power exuded by all-girl band The Donnas who, shock horror, write their own tunes and (no!) play their own instruments.
And while The Donnas may never have met Prince Charles, made their own film, or become multi-millionaires, here they are releasing yet another studio album – proof that talent can shine through into longevity even in the fickle world of music.
Of course, part of The Donnas appeal is undoubtedly their girlieness. Long flowing tresses – Farrah Fawcett style – adorn each of the four, who are pictured with flowers in their hair on the album cover, and you don’t get too many rock bands who thank their manicurists in the album credit notes.
But gender aside, Gold Medal is simply an excellent example of an album of pure, unadulterated guitar driven pop/rock, although it may be slightly on the poppier side of rock for those who preferred the darker, punkier style of The Donnas’ earlier albums.
Opener I Don’t Want To Know (If You Don’t Want Me) sets the scene, with an up-tempo drum, bass and guitar whirl that you know would be great to hear live. This track, together with It Takes One To Know One, shows that the girls still know how to rock. However, elsewhere, harmonies (Don’t Break Me Down), excellent bass work (Friends Like Mine) and Spanish sounding guitars (The Gold Medal) add variety and interest.
Brett Anderson’s voice is always a pleasure, and the nice girl-next-door tones highlight the wry humour of the lyrics. (For the easily confused, this is a girl Brett Anderson, not the Brett Anderson who sang of Animal Nitrate in top ’90s indie band Suede).
Lyrics worthy of mention include, “Age before beauty, but you’ve got neither,” and the rather more suggestive, “It’s so hard to be on your own / When you’re holding it all alone / And you’ve been working it to the bone / It’s so hard, it’s so hard.”
Other lyrics tell a story, in the manner of Voice Of The Beehive, such as I Don’t Want To Know, which seems like a boy-meets-girl / they-split-up tale until, “You think that’s fair after all I’ve done / Restraining orders one by one,” opens your eyes to the world of a female stalker.
On the negative side, the drums are too clunky – perhaps a sign of earlier punk days – and the hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em in time basics are just too overbearing on some of the gentler tracks.
However, this is a minor complaint in what otherwise is an enjoyable album, with enough tunes and attitude to rock anyone’s week.