With fun, simple guitar riffs and roots in the birth of what could be considered a rather niche genre, Pansy Division offer a nostalgic trip back to early pop punk with their seventh studio album, ‘Quite Contrary’.
Formed in 1991, Pansy Division are the most popular and commercially successful queercore band since the genre’s creation in the 80s. It’s easy to see why; their music has a more accessible feel compared to the likes of aggressive Limp Wrist or Team Dresch, and their albums have an element of humour which allows a more light-hearted listening experience.
‘Quite Contrary’ is strongly inspired by early pop punk, with the trademark warbling vocals and upbeat, guitar-led tracks. These somewhat cheerful vibes give the impression of a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and aren’t afraid to stay true to their old-school sound. The second track, ‘Love Came Along’, is a crude (yet oddly sweet) love song, a strange mix between outrageous and romantic, and tracks such as ‘You’re on the Phone’ and ‘I’m the Friend’ offer tales of relationship struggles and frustrations.
This is not to say that Pansy Division don’t touch on the more serious aspects of an LGBT+ identity. ‘Blame the Bible’ is a raucous rant about the effects of religion on gay people and those who “just don’t fit in”. It’s deliberately controversial, suggesting that getting rid of the Bible completely is the way to eliminate prejudice, and (while still giving off a blasé tone) hints at a degree of bitterness that is certainly not unfamiliar in this particular genre. Similarly, the themes in ‘It’s a Sin’ aren’t unusual in the LGBT+ community, which describes the feeling of shame impressed on gay youth from society.
The music itself is enjoyable, even if the guitar riffs are a little basic. The lyrics are really where the album falls short. Even though the tracks are fun, the simple, repetitive lyrics begin to grate a little on the nerves, and there is the impression that the tracks would begin to get irritating if the album was any longer.
Despite this, none of the 14 tracks are actually bad, and its simplicity gives a sort of charm that isn’t found in more ‘serious’ work. It’s fun, and even the more serious themes are told through a medium which makes them easy to understand and relate to.
As one of the first openly gay rock bands, Pansy Division has refused to shy away from the more sombre aspects of their identities. However, as is clear in this album, they refuse to dwell on them, instead focusing on fun and light-hearted tracks that describe the struggles of any gay youth attempting to navigate the confusing world of love, sex and friendship. It’s a good album, and some may say this and ones like it are essential for the LGBT+ community (especially recently) to find artists who find the joy in their identity.