This Petrol Girls article was written by Gemma Parkes, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Catherine Quinn. Lead photo by Charlee Rowton
Innovator of the punk movement Richard Hell once said, “there are characters in [punk] that deliberately go as far as they can in certain kind of taboo areas”, and it seems that South London based raging-feminist hardcore punk group, Petrol Girls are trying very hard to fall in to that category.
The quartet, an homage to Les Pétroleuses (a group of enraged women rumoured to have hurled explosive filled milk bottles at government buildings during the Paris Commune in 1871), are all about smashing the system; challenging social norms with their politically charged lyrics, discussing issues like alienation, sexism, mental health and, of course, feminism. While it may be somewhat fashionable to be an activist hipster these days, there’s no getting away from it being possibly the biggest cliché in punk
‘Slug’ is instantaneously aggressive. The chaotic execution of lead singerRen Aldridge’s satanic shrieking, “Void of empathy/ Void of energy/ There’s less of me now/ Less human somehow”, and tempestuous guitar riff soon relaxes into a conventional yet average vocal – it almost feels like something has been exorcised from Ren’s body. Although this song deals with the alienation of the mentally ill, the lyrics are lacking in depth.
‘The Protagonist’ sees Ren challenge the ideology of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl- a film trope that’s used to describe a one-dimensional female character whose purpose is to tend to the needs of the leading man. Alongside a frenetic, head-banging chord progression and perilous percussion, she screeches, “I’m a protagonist-ta deal with it/protagonist, antagonist”. Her singing style imitates that of Johnny Rotten (pre-crumpet days), and the song tries so hard to be punk that it comes across as completely unoriginal.
Closing track ‘Separated’ sees Petrol Girls take a stab at a more commercialised version of punk. With an upbeat, fast-moving guitar and pop-punk theme, this could easily be mistaken for Paramore.
Despite their best efforts, Petrol Girls aren’t going to bring down the status quo with their political punk enthusiasm. There’s plenty of attitude, but the EP is low in invention and feels like a cheap imitation of earlier artists.
‘Some Thing’ is out on the 19th February 2016 via Bomber Music.
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