Album Reviews

The Donnas – Bitchin’

(Cooking Vinyl) UK release date: 1 October 2007

You cannot be serious. You cannot play rock like this in the 21st century. It’s an insane notion. You wouldn’t even think about it. Not in a million years. On the other hand, pass me that book of cool notions, because I want to make a small annotation…

You might have heard of The Donnas. Four glossy, glamorous LA indie princesses, they’ve been about for a while on the verge of mainstream success, peddling their too-cool-for-school retro sounds to people who should know better but care not to, and here they are with their seventh album, taking on the genre of the most risible dark lord with customary outlandishness.

With the first listen to this record comes the euphoric wave The Donnas always bring on, coming as they do from a riot grrrl / school drop-out angle that’s just loveable. But surely there must be limits to what they can make sound good? What makes them tick? At this moment, embraced by Alison Robertson’s succulent electric retro insane licks and Brett Anderson’s essence of girly cool vocals, it’s difficult to care. (And yes, she is called Brett Anderson and no, she has never fronted Suede.)

Imagine your local Rock Café, soberly going about its day, tourists floating in and out prosaically, holding their rubber guitars, showing their tattoos and throwing devil signs, and then imagine the doors springing open one sunny afternoon, and a Harley Davidson shooting out with four bikini clad girls in a daredevil formation holding a giant ghetto blaster aloft with the coolest music you’ve ever heard blaring out. You have to scratch your eyes afterwards, but the music stays with you. Bitchin’ is like an album of that music.

At times it’s hilarious, especially the song openings, which evoke poodle-rock heroes in mock affection, but the tracks then go somewhere inconceivably cool, twisting, shimmering and generally rocking in drool-worthy style. Bitchin’ is a bunch of girls taking over the most macho musical genre imaginable, injecting it with sexiness, sassiness and intelligence, and laughing and rocking their heads off all the while. It’s seduction on the highest level, and from a fine-looking beast too. Osbourne, Page, Tyler, and Cooper (Alice and Tommy), you can go to hell. The grrrls have your number, and your music has never sounded so good.

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The Donnas – Bitchin’
The Donnas – Gold Medal
The Donnas – Spend The Night