Album Reviews

Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love

(Captured Tracks) UK release date: 17 March 2014


Perfect Pussy - Say Yes To Love Punk is a dirty word. It can mean horror music, commercial pop, political agitation, edgy behaviour of any kind, fashion. It can mean an attitude, a sound, an ideology, a ‘look’. It has been used to describe Lydia Lunch AND Kate Nash. It has been sold to millions as an anti-authoritarian, non-conformist aesthetic, all the while cultivating sad Sid Vicious clones the world over (here’s to you, Billie Joe).

Paradoxically, Perfect Pussy fit the tag perfectly. They have an angry-sounding female vocalist, an eye-roll inducing name, no particular look to speak of (other than an all-white album sleeve), lyrics about masturbation, and (most importantly) a relentless sound.

The presence of a female and the – ahem – name seem to urge the listener (or reviewer) to make connections to feminism, Riot Grrrl (Lan McArdle of Joanna Gruesome calls frontwoman Meredith Graves her ‘grrrl crush’), sexual equality, regular equality. Graves has accidentally courted press attention by giving long, confessional interviews that give fans an insight into the mind at the helm of the project.

Over the eight scorching tracks that make up their record, they provide listeners with a cranial re-fit and an ear-drum fricassee, whether asked for or not. It’s one of the most hostile albums of 2014 so far, and is all the better for it – abrasive No Wave atonality and shrieking guitar feedback harks back to early Sonic Youth. Perfect Pussy, like their hallowed NY ancestors, go to great lengths to pretend they’re not melodic.

They like art. They like to read books and tell people about it. They’re from New York, home of Patti Smith. All that aside, Perfect Pussy have shown a total disregard for the smoother, more tuneful moments on their I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling cassette – Say Yes To Love is pure sturm und drang – the melodies are there, but keyboard flourishes and indie-rock sensibilities have, to put it lightly, gone out of the window.

Driver opens the record with tape hiss, before taut, ripping riffs, a relentless grinding rhythm and Meredith Graves’ pissed-off shrieks fill the air with dense, burning-rubber intensity. Big Stars is another ripper – it takes about 15 seconds before the proverbial hits the fan. Chiming guitars and heavy-handed snare strikes marry well with Graves’ deranged snarl. Work has a sandblasted, wire-wool-scrubbed melody with rattling guitars and hyperspeed drumming from the outset.

Advance Upon The Real is probably the most abrasive number on the record; banks of noise crash into each other, completely burying Graves’ lyrics in fuzzbomb sound-design. Interference Fits is by contrast the least violent track on the record, despite still making an unholy amount of noise. It’s driven by the crystalline guitar lick, and the track substitutes snarl for sigh, making it a downbeat cut that tempers the often fiery mood of the album. It’s perfectly placed, too – it comes halfway through the record, and prepares the ground for Dig.

Dig is a dissonant, crashing track with highlight-reel lyrics – “I want to fuck myself, I want to eat myself”. It’s the same kind of confessional moments that make Kim Gordon and Lydia Lunch’s lyrics so engaging, despite them being completely sensational. The twitching pulse of Bells is underpinned by cymbal-heavy drumming and tightly-wound riffs. Perfect Pussy’s songs seem to live in a self-contained, completely paranoiac state – and Graves’ internal struggles are as inviting as they are intriguing.

Final track VII is the masterpiece of the collection. It’s probably going to go down as one of the most interesting tracks of the year: a dense block of unfiltered white noise raging around inside your skull is the closest comparison point. Or maybe the ‘Holocaust section’ at the end of a My Bloody Valentine gig is a better comparison. Or Wolf Eyes at their most playful. Whichever, VII is pure sonic mayhem, controlled only by Graves’ haunting voice speaking incantations somewhere in the distance.

If you enjoyed the Iceage record, it’s imperative that you get this: not only are Perfect Pussy more confrontational (and more believable) than their Danish peers, they appear to have spent just as many hours studying EVOL and figuring out where they can push Sonic Youth’s early sonic alloy of metallic guitar scrapes and crunching rhythms. On Say Yes To Love, a No Wave-inspired brutality meets sparkling melodic sensibility, combined with a hyper-literate (although not always hear-able) socially conscious vibe. Perfect Pussy elect to push that sound forwards, at an incredible pace, and in doing so they’ve set a new bar for records in 2014.

Frankly, Say Yes To Love is absolutely stunning – a blistering mission statement from a band with undoubtable promise and inextinguishable fire. Sonic Youth is dead. Long live Perfect Pussy.


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Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love