It’s been 15 years since The Bangles (Susanna Hoffs, Vicki and Debbi Peterson, and Michael Steele) released their last album Everything, and after spending the intervening years in diverse projects, they have reunited with their fourth proper album, and it’s as though they’ve never been away. It’s clear the girls have grown up, but aren’t afraid to rock out either.
“One must tear off one’s own head” intones a clipped English accent before garage rock guitars crash into the Elvis Costello penned opener Tear Off Your Own Head (it’s a doll revolution), a perky rocker about rebellion with a big singalong chorus and those trademark harmonies led gleefully by Susanna Hoffs’ unmistakable vocals. You can almost see Barbie dancing in the aisles.
Proceedings slow down momentarily with the single Something That You Said, underpinned by keyboards and drum machines, and a new outing for Debbi Peterson’s Ask Me No Questions (originally released in 1994 by her then band Kindred Spirit), before upping the tempo a gear with Ride the Ride.
It’s not all straightforward rockers and jangly guitars however. Mandolins, accordions and harmoniums pop up alongside psychedelic imagery (Nickel Romeo, Song For A Good Son) and delicious 1960s style country-pop songs, (Mixed Messages, Stealing Rosemary) while Hoffs’ flag-waving ballad I Will Take Care of You is backed by a string section, and will draw inevitable comparisons to Eternal Flame.
Weighing in at just under an hour with 15 songs, on paper Doll Revolution could have been disastrous – another ’80s comeback album anyone? – but it’s actually a success, seeming like a natural progression from their previous albums and it sounds like they are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Doll Revolution will provide rich pickings for any long time fan, and a welcome antidote for today’s production line boy and girl bands for the casual listener. Welcome back the Bangles.