I was sitting just outside Metro Insurgentes, in all it’s half slated, retrofuturistic glory. Claudia was eating a bag of nuts she borrowed* from a friend, while I was doodling in a notebook.
As she flicked one into the air, hoping a nearby squirrel would scamper away, we saw a gang of young dudes, dressed in black, with the anarchy “A” spray painted/scribbled/stitched on the back. They have a mohawk a few years too late to jump on the bandwagon, but they still march, towards El Chopo.
It will be a long walk.
Claudia looks at me and we ponder the same question at the same time:
“What happens to punks when they age?”
We didn’t say grow up. Just because you accumulate years doesn’t imply you grow up, you just become, ah, vintage. We know so.
Some punks go and sell butter. Others go and sell car insurance with an Spitting Image atrocity by their side. Some still think it’s ’77 and go on tirades on Facebook about strikes in the 80s. Others live in El Chopo and become the equivalent of the village old wiseman/fool. Others play the same song forever and ever in dive bars thriving on nostalgia. There’s even the ones that acrimoniously split and comeback on national television, claiming there’s a “celestial calling” for them to return.
Then there’s The Suicide Dolls. You know they been around the block for a while and while not really 100% punk like Off!, they kept the punk attitude but embraced the technological advantages for sound quality, whilst attaching a couple of tricks from other genres to sonically expand their characteristic sound.
So, what happened to this punks when it was obvious they wouldn’t repo that Chevy Malibu?
They took on the wall of noise approach of shoegaze, the ferocity of grunge and the drone aspects of psychedelia and created something strange. Songs with a powerful punk aesthetic go into trippy drone moments (‘Smash’ – a real pleasure to meet your acquaintance), others just let it all out in lashings of energy (the instant hit ‘Drive’). You want pure sonic psychedelia? Gaze into ‘Elizabeth’, a slow burning number that sounds like Mazzy Star but with distortion, feedback and an explosive payoff.
There’s even the use of found sounds from The Conet Project in tracks like ‘Go’ and ‘Eye’, adding an otherworldly sense of dread to rocking tracks. Songs like ‘Go’ even border a bit on Sadcore, letting the voice lose a bit of dominance and letting both guitar and bass drive the emotions onwards. Speaking of bass, the tracks for the 4-string inclined should be ‘Senses’ and ‘Smash’.
Miss grunge? Well, ‘Pretty lie’ kicks you two miles back to the 90s and if you feel like staying for a while, ‘Brand New and Close’ provides a rightful encore. ‘Deep red’ starts with some wicked guitar feedback that never overstays its welcome; eviction comes company of the apocalyptic notes that ensue.
Claudia has just finished the bag of nuts, what a judas! We keep talking about punk bands, old and new and come to the conclusion that adopting newer approaches to the ol’ spirit of ’77 means that a knife is being sharpened, not that you’re selling out by promoting dairy products. Prayers in Parking Lots is a good example of how music can include as many genres as you want if you know how to weave them together. The Suicide Dolls have gone and shown how masterful they are at this loom.
Words: Sam J. Valdes Lopez