A plethora of influences combine to create an album that, while decent, does not quite hit the mark.
Futuristic horror feminist Mexican punk is certainly a niche genre. The fact that Le Butcherettes seem to be the only band around playing the style (currently) only increases the sense of adventure. The brain child of the aptly named Teri Gender Bender, the project's third record, ‘A Raw Youth’, sees the band sticking to their grungy punk roots, while simultaneously delving into the world of 80’s synth wave, resulting in an eclectic and unfortunately, at times, inaccessible record.
The album's opener ‘Shave My Pride’ is easily understood, however. With its gnarly, grungy guitars, a nod in the direction of legendary punks The Melvins, the song is tight, short and simple. Just bass, guitars and drums rocking out together, no more questions. It's the perfect, upbeat beast to kick off the record. It is in the following tracks, namely ‘My Mallely’ and ‘Reason to Die Young’ that the quirkiness of ‘A Raw Youth’ begins to reveal itself. Both tracks are solid, catchy pop songs, which offer the first hints of synth for the record. Specifically, ‘Reason to Die Young’ fails to execute the introduction of the electronics to the same degree as the aforementioned ‘My Mallely’, with an upbeat chorus brought down by the over present and irritating constant bop of the synths. However, both songs display the talent Teri provides in the song writing department, with both tracks smoothly rising and falling dynamically while maintaining an identifiable direction.
‘A Raw Youth’ sees some big name collaborators in the form of Iggy Pop on 'La Uva' and John Frusciante on album closer ‘My Half.’ The issue however, is that these are arguably the weakest tracks on the record. 'La Uva' is interesting with its electronic sounding drums and chaotic white noise building into a big, fuzzy chorus. Iggy’s low drones add to the texture of the song. However, the song drags its feet, with random sound effects thrown in to make up for the lack of musical direction. Similarly, ‘My Half’ features some pleasing guitar touches by Frusciante, but the song itself feels like a broken record, drooling along at an agonisingly slow pace, providing an uninspiring end to the record.
There are parts on ‘A Raw Youth’ that fail to inspire, and then there are the parts that are just bizarre. ‘Sold Less Than Gold’ has a strange, ska feeling in the introduction, with electronic horns providing the melodic undertones to the driving groove. It works though, even more so when the chorus kicks in. One finds the head bopping and the foot tapping throughout the first chorus and then...abruptly it's all over. The same can be said for the angry, party punk anthem ‘They Fuck You Over’. An angry letter penned about the struggles Teri faced in the Mexican music scene, the song is bombastic from the get-go, a loud, thrashing slab of punk rock. However, clocking in at only two and a half minutes, one feels that for the true spirit of the record to be felt, this just needs to be extended a little more. The opposite can be said though for ‘Witchless C Spot’, another electronically laden slow burner, which, while possessing a big chorus, is uninspiring and unexciting.
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Le Butcherettes can really rock out when they try. ‘The Hitch Hiker’ is a great showcase of the uniqueness of horror punk, and ‘Stab My Back' posses’ excellent drive. However, ‘A Raw Youth’ sees the band becoming bogged down in synth experimentation once too often. The image is there. The attitude is an omnipresent force, but the music only sometimes delivers, making this an intriguing but not fully engaging listen.
'A Raw Youth' has some excellent songs, which should go down a treat for the band's fans. It will be interesting to hear how these songs are recreated in the live setting given the group's reputation for performances. As a body of work though, it fails to capitalise on a strong foundation, with the misses, sadly, just outweighing the hits.
1. Shave The Pride
2. My Mallely
3. Reason to Die Young
4. La Uva (Ft. Iggy Pop)
5. Sold Less Than Gold
6. Stab My Back
7. They Fuck You Over
8. Witchless C Spot
9. The Hitch Hiker
10. Lonely & Drunk
11. Oil The Shoe If The Critter Knew Any Better
12. My Half (Ft. John Frusciante)