Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bad Cop/Bad Cop Matters

The election forced my hand. Writing has helped me come to terms with the maelstrom of feelings I experience on a daily basis. Which means I get to empty my vault of ideas. I had an outline of this post but I never put pen to paper.

I was in a quagmire. Not Sorry by Bad Cop/Bad Cop is an album that sank its teeth into my brain and shouted "Listen to me on repeat!" I've dutifully obeyed that command for almost three weeks now. The 2015 record is infectious with its tight rhythms and hooks. It's a perfect realization of pop-punk. But I gave up writing about it because all my takes came back to a key element: Bad Cop/Bad Cop is a band of women.

I gave up because it felt reductive. It should not matter in the grand scheme of things that this fucking fantastic record is written and recorded by four women as opposed to four men or a mixed group. It took the election for me to come to my senses and see that the composition matters but at the same time it doesn't.

Let's take the song "Cheers!". It's one of those perfect pop-punk tunes. At just over four minutes it is a quintessential "I am doing a shitty job of getting over you" song. As a former bartender the imagery is pitch perfect. But the artistry is just unbelievable. Watch the video:

There's a moment after the ladies launch into chorus for the first time. The brief rest of "this one's to chase" is such a technically savvy move that it gives me shivers every time. 

Of course then they launch into a second refrain where we just graced with the bass. In a moment evocative of the Mad Caddies Linh carries the song forward and we get to watch Stacey dance. Let me tell you something - when the band looks like they're having a good time it's hard not to smile right along with them. Of course the way Jennie goes into the lyric "cheap shots" is so heartbreakingly perfect that it makes me want to down some well bourbon just for the burn. And all the while Myra is keeping perfect time until we end the song with some shout along vocals. 

The song is perfection.

How about a contrast? Punk often prides itself on being progressive in its values. Equality is a hallmark and one that should be pushed to the forefront. That being said representation is lacking. Take a listen to the Have Nots' "Louisville Slugger": 

The song is important in its message against domestic violence and that of supporting women. However it still has a reductive stance of white male protectors coming to the rescue of white women. I still like the song but the more I listen to it the more problems I find. Because it says that the only answer to this is violence. 

It isn't about rescue it's about revenge.

Bad Cop/Bad Cop tackles the same subject in "Sugarcane" 

There are similar messages - "I'll use a fucking hammer on his face" is not subtle. What "Sugarcane" does that "Louisville Slugger" does not is that it emphasizes the self worth of the main character rather than focus on the revenge against the abuser. The shift in the focus makes this a story about a woman instead of one about her friend seeking retribution. 

Again the song is a four chord wonder played at not-quite-breakneck pace. At under three minutes "Sugarcane" has the blood of No Use for a Name and Teenage Bottlerocket running through its veins. 

There are other awesome tracks - "Joey Lawrence" instantly belongs in my "woah-oh" hall of fame while "The 'Wood" takes on gentrification in a neat package. However I want to close on the track that encouraged me to revisit the review. "Support" is a fist raising anthem designed to close out sets and leave the crowd wanting more. We need this song now more than ever.

You're with us or against us
It's yes or no
You're silence is defense 
of the status quo
If you support me
Then come and join me
We're on our own

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