Le Butcherettes a little more polished but no less ferocious on ‘A Raw Youth’
Continuing the impressive arc of its powerful predecessors Sin Sin Sin (2011) and Cry Is for the Flies (2014), Le Butcherettes’ third album A Raw Youth is (ironically) both more polished in its production—courtesy once again of Omar Rodriguez Lopez of Mars Volta and At the Drive-In—and more lividly furious in its lyrics.
“Push me towards insanity/Beat me, rape me, terrorize my mind/’Cause of you I’m sold/Less than gold,” bandleader Terrie Gender Bender coos in a disarmingly cheerful voice over one of her bounciest melodies yet in “Sold Less Than Gold.” That contrast is harrowing, as is the song’s topic, which its author says is about “women who are sold into marriages or into sex slavery and how resilient their spirits are.” But it also must be heard in light of a certain presidential candidate who’s pledged to round up and deport those alleged hordes of rapist immigrants. And the thought of our punk-rocking Mexican heroine confronting the hairdo Spy magazine always called a “short-fingered vulgarian” is vastly inspiring.
Much as ’70s punk moved from stripped-down/faster/louder into more tuneful and traditionally pop New Wave, Gender Bender and her bandmates expand the garage-punk core of their sound to continue embracing ebullient keyboard lines and electronic rhythms in songs such as “Witchless C Spot” and “Reason to Die Young.” But the heart of the band’s sound is as always its explosive singer, whose fury at the global corporate and largely male hegemony ranges from the broad and gleefully non-specific assault such as “They F--- You Over” to the incredibly focused anti-hipster rant “Shave the Pride.” And she’s just as galvanizing in both modes.
Indeed, the only missteps are the two high-wattage guest appearances: Iggy Pop adds little mumbling in Spanish beside Gender Bender in homage to the grape “La Uva,” while the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante’s contribution to the meandering “My Half” is best described as stoner noodling. But don’t let those stumbles dissuade you from another absolute must-hear from the most vital band you probably haven’t heard but absolutely should.
Le Butcherettes, A Raw Youth (Ipecac)
Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.