Direct from the west coast,
which a verve and a nerve, with a chunk of funk and a crock of rock
The Donnas deliver their 'difficult' second album with ease. 'Gold
Medal' takes no prisoners, it's direct and to the point, it's no
nonsense, it talks the talk and it walks the walk, there is no
messing around here, just plug in and play, it's what they do, and
it's what you should do too. Putting it simply, this is a rip
roaring sonic cavalcade from start to finish, and you should not
only listen to it, you should leap around like a lunatic to it.
It'd be easy and indeed lazy, to
categorise The Donnas as 'chicks with guitars', the whole Bangles
thing springs mind; the Californian sunshine, upbeat, guitar driven
songs, the infectious melodies, the general good-time aura, all
offered by a bunch of good looking birds intent on having a good old
time. The more politically correct of you might ask why it's
important to note that they are women, and indeed, why is it
important to say that they are good looking? - well, this is why -
it's because I'm a red-blooded male, and I'd rather look at this lot
than at Meatloaf - is that bad?
Right from the outset, 'Gold
Medal' is a lesson in strictly controlled aggression, it's forever
poised on the brink of explosion, it's edgy and noisy, yet vibrant
and melodious. It would be wrong for me to say that it was
particularly erudite, sophisticated or intelligent, but what the
hell, this record is simply (and simply is possibly the key word
here) a great record to put on, crank up the volume and shake your
Throughout the album The Donnas
don't try too hard to be too different, they do what they know, what
they are good at, and that means that there are no weak links at
all. The sound is consistently that of a sub-punk, semi-thrashy
guitar driven pop rock wall of sublimely structured power chord
rhythms - always with a passionately tender hint of reverb, and a
gentle slice of overdrive. The frequencies never interfere and
overload, but they collide enough to make you aware that they are
there, doing battle. It's impossible to have this on as background
music, it makes you sit up and take notice, it doesn't allow itself
to be ignored, it's there with balls, it has attitude by the
bucketload, and it's not going to be fucked with.
Opening the album is 'I Don't
Want to Know', it's a clear cut assault on the senses, it's an
adrenalin induced Les Paul workout. There are hints of influences
from a whole array of sources, from the Ramones and The Clash,
taking in the early days of The Cure, through to the faux punk pop
kids of this century. It's only rock and roll, but we like it. There
is more of the same from 'Friends Like Mine', leaving you barely
time to draw breath before the onslaught continues. It's high
energy, rhythmic, melodious, harmonious noise.
'Don't Break Me Down' shows
echoes of Hendrix era Americana, enhanced by modernity, a cleaner
and more clear cut sound, but the melody and intensity is there.
'Fall Behind Me' and 'It's So Hard' keep the tempo pulsating. The
whole sound seems to swing between out and out rocking and enthused
thrashy indie guitar pop.
Title track 'The Gold Medal'
veers off at a tangent to the standard pop rockers, it's some where
between jaunty and jumpy, musically it blends acoustic guitar
riffing and piano lead melodies, with only a suggestion of the
grinding guitars of the album thus far. Lyrically it's getting
darker and more menacing, but still strangely alluring. 'Out of my
Hands' again shifts the tune of the album into another direction,
without letting the tempo fail or the intensity stray.
Rounding off the record are 'It
Takes One to Know One', 'Revolver' and 'Have You No Pride'; the
former a standard from The Donnas big guitar guide, the latter a
lyrical stab at followers of fashion, a coup de grace aimed at maybe
their own fans, certainly not intentional, but possibly a little mis-guided. Despite this the album remains, on the face of it a damn good
listen, infectious, irresistible, and with an intensity so often
lacking in todays chart pop rockers.
In all this is without doubt a
guitar fans record, a bunch of hard and fast three minute sonic
assaults, covering a wide range of genres whilst rarely straying
from it's own distinctly marked formula. If you like a good time,
this one's for you, if you like machine gun hailstorms of driving
guitar it'll suit you fine. If you like chicks with guitars then
well, you probably already have it.
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