Loud Women Fest Presents: Petrol Girls
Feminist post-hardcore Petrol Girls recently released their new record, Cut & Stitch, and it’s sincerely one of my favourite releases of the year so far.
Since forming in 2013 for a house show in support of International Women’s Day, founding member Ren Aldridge (guitar/vocals) recruited fellow members Liepa Kuraitė (bass/vocals), Zock Astpai (drums), and Joe York (guitar/vocals) to complete the Petrol Girls lineup. Alongside the strong symbolism in regards to the formation of the band, they’re named after Pétroleuses, which are mythical women of the Paris commune who allegedly set fire to private property with Molotov cocktails made from milk bottles, and rejected traditional gender roles. If you’ve never heard of Petrol Girls before, the introduction you need is that they are strong advocates of freedom of movement, anti-capitalism, and intersectional feminism. Though the band originally formed in London, they are now based in various locations and touring incessantly.
Cut & Stitch is brazen, confrontational, and liberating. Aldridge delivers her vocals with such a strong passion that it feels like the ground is shaking beneath you; contrasting vocals from York and Kuraitė support the emotions from the lyrics and Aldridge’s delivery. The record consists of different sounds: frenzied screams intersected with varying energies of spoken word and melodic backing vocals. The ‘Intro’ creates an anthemic beginning with lyrics, “I think about how sound can travel where our bodies can’t / how sound can touch when hands can’t meet / how we can’t return its touch” and ‘Naive’ wraps up with the perfect closing lyrics, “we’re not finished / we never fucking will be”.
Singles for the record included ‘The Sound’ and ‘Big Mouth’ which connects with each other. “this is the sound / it moves across borders / it travels through walls / infects and haunts us” continuing to “I’m raising my voice louder / it carries me beyond their walls”. In an introduction to ‘Big Mouth’, Aldridge wrote: “Whilst speaking from my experience as a woman, I’m trying to draw links with voices and bodies that are marginalised for different reasons to build solidarity and volume as resistance.” Aldridge has been facing a legal battle that surrounds this very issue, which you can read more about and support in Solidarity Not Silence.
The standout tracks to me are ‘Weather Warning’ which speaks to me on such a personal level and hits it right on the nail with getting your shit together, it also reminds me of the meaning of Paramore’s ‘Turn It Off’ chorus. The description for ‘Monstrous’ is “about feeling mined and drained and too much and not enough and, ultimately, monstrous. It’s also about how I sometimes feel on stage or on social media”. Aldridge’s vocal delivery during the track is ominous and ends with an outburst of energy, closed by an electric guitar distortion that feels electric. ‘Tangle Of Lives’ tackles the conversation of patriarchy and capitalism, the pointed lyrics scream “they think they're owed our labour / they think they’re owed our bodies / they think they’re owed the earth / they think they own the earth”. ‘Talk In Tongues’ addresses toxic masculinity and how women close to them always have to carry the emotional baggage that they can’t express, which drains them in return for the extra effort they have to input. ‘Rootless’ is a nearly spoken-word track showcasing a slow and ambient side of Petrol Girls, it’s a full track alongside the ‘Intro’ and three interludes that breaks up the energy in the record. It continues to show more vulnerability in the record, described “about feeling lost and not really at home anywhere, craving community but constantly leaving places”.
Written by Eethan Bello