It’s many years since the riot grrrl revolution arrived in a flurry of kinder whore dresses, Mary Jane shoes and bad language.
It may have faded after a few years but Grim Dylan’s new opus could well be the start of the second coming.
The sound this Ashbourne based band have managed to create on Cyclone is quite simply put, astounding. It’s a bit like they’ve taken the essence of such cult groups as The Gits, The Distillers and Bikini Kill and shoved them in a blender, then recorded the outcome. Even the cartoonish album cover points towards a Tank Girl attitude that is very apparent right throughout the record, these girls mean business.
While opener No Way Out kicks things off mid paced it’s next track and first single Sea Sick that really starts the party. The killer hook and open feel to this song means it has an easy appeal even if it isn’t as immediate as later material. Several key things are obvious from an early point on this album. It’s like nothing else that’s been released for years being the most obvious. The way the music is constructed, and then the way the writing is performed, or interpreted is spectacularly unique.
Vicky Earith’s guitar is used to perform a kind of surgical strike on your ears, her playing spans anything from punk to grunge to metal all the while holding the album sound in a consistently familiar pattern. Coupled with this is the sort of drumming that defies logic. Somehow Ro McSkimming plays her kit in a way that you know is rock but kinda feels like you’re listening to a jazz musician. There are little give aways like the rippling on the cymbals and the abstract sub beats through the tom toms.
Up front is where you really notice the likeness to those great first generation fem rock bands though, because here we have the solid bass and extraordinary voice of Suki Celeste. I’ve waited a long time to hear someone match those banshee screams you used to get from Kat Blelland of Babes In Toyland and the don’t fuck with me sharpness of Pretty In Pink era Courtney Love. Finally that wait is over. Everywhere on the album there’s diversity, the blues tones of Shivers is followed by indie influenced Dead Life Crisis and then Sabbathesque Freudian Slip. Meanwhile the writing, individual style and those terrific vocals keep it all gelled together.
The one or two issues there are, are minor ones. The first two tracks have a less well defined production than the rest of the album, almost as if they were finished off separately and a couple of intros could have been clipped. Freudian Slip one of the strongest songs I’ve heard in a while could easily cut straight to the chase.
The sheer breadth of writing means that different people will take away with them differing songs as personal favourites. It’s a slightly scatter gun approach which should mean broad appeal but with only the band’s unique sound there to catch individual dissenters who might find one track or another not to their taste. For me though, and I suspect plenty of others too, Cyclone is a kick up the backside for all those who thought we wouldn’t see something truly different being released this year, or decade for that matter.
Three long years in the making Cyclone has brought the riot grrrls back, screaming into the face of music sameness.