Perfect Pussy
Say Yes to Love Captured Tracks http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/1403/Perfect Pussy.jpg

[Captured Tracks; 2014]

Rating: 3.5/5 3.5 / 5 (0)

Styles: punk, noise rock, garage, indie
Others: Pussy Galore, Harry Pussy, Nashville Pussy, Pussy Riot


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If you were to judge the hype Perfect Pussy have garnered by the banner of their own lyrics, hyperbolic drones like me wouldn’t fare too well. Not that I want to overplay the Hype card here, since the New York quintet hasn’t really been around long enough to accumulate more than a few zine nods and a P4k interview, but being called “maybe the most important punk band to come out of” Syracuse since whoever is one fine way of polluting the appreciation of your music with the tiresome compulsion to recognize “importance.” And in much the same vein, the life Meredith Graves sings about for the bulk of Say Yes to Love is one that has been confused and contaminated by overplayed romantic narratives, made pale by the very exaggerations and embellishments that claim to advocate it. Luckily for all concerned, however, is that just as there’s more underlying our days than the fabrications we’ve been spoonfed since birth, there’s more to Perfect Pussy’s debut than musical and critical bluster, with the young band distilling their unkempt energy into a peppy yet articulate noise-rock torrent that exceeds the modest sum of its influences.

These influences — the VSS, Sonic Youth, Cro-Mags, Kate Bush — find expression in the part of Say Yes to Love that has the band driving themselves through agile lashes of DIY garage-punk. But in every “Driver” and every “Bells,” the sprinting, trebly chords and scurrying vocals are accompanied by weaved flushes of abstracted guitar noise or whitewashed synth that augment the customary propulsion with a self and identity of its own. During the crackling rush of “Bells,” there’s an almost spacey bubbling to Ray McAndrew’s six strings that continuously reproduces itself over the relentless scratches of distortion; and during “Work,” there’s an untiring aura that’s similarly recessed above the song’s lo-fi thrash. In conjunction with other dogged stamps of individuation, they create a dichotomy that’s structurally isomorphic to the lyrical themes of illusion and disillusion, the album’s other mark of distinction.

Without wanting to delve too far into Graves’ personal history, such lyrics raise Say Yes to Love as a breakup album of sorts, but like with all breakups, it’s consumed as much with a schism from a certain rosy vision of life as it is with a schism from a particular human being. Through the clattering maelstrom of “Advance Upon The Real,” she derides the excess and unreality that usurps one person’s conception of another and thereby sullies a relationship with implausible expectations from the outset. She throws at a one-time paramour the line, “‘cause you think I’m God in human form/ You’ve never met anyone like me before,” eventually migrating with the bombardment of drums and Fender to a sardonic reassumption of her status as a desire-object: “Because I’m an advance upon the real/ Not a step up from the others, but a step away.”

Similarly, other cuts on the album wrestle pugnaciously with this tension between publically and privately constructed modes of living, between popular, extravagant directions on how your life should be and personal, unassuming accounts of how it is. “Interference Fits” occupies its time with an evanescence of self that follows adherence to prevalent norms and guidelines, the maudlin resilience of its tune carrying the stanza, “We fade into the background, man/ Of filtered light where and when we can/ And live out a thousand weird lives/ In conversations of churches and veils and wives.” In “Dig,” over three- and four-chord swipes of truculence, we hear of “Twenty six years of false pretenses, again/ Pretending to care about men/ I am loved insofar as I cherish this pain/ You should shut your mouth because language means nothing,” this being one of numerous outbursts throughout the LP to underscore the suffering that recompenses us for having our lives transformed into mere vessels for society’s dogma and self-glorification.

And if cleaving to social prescriptions and saying yes to Love threatens a kind of false consciousness or inauthenticity, Perfect Pussy strive to reclaim themselves within the “interference” that “fits” surreptitiously into conventional liturgy. Or as the cyclonic drang of “Advance Upon the Real” hints, within the “secret spaces there between/ What I do and what I say regarding fucking,” those spaces that haven’t yet been appropriated by the surrounding community and redefined to suit its own ends. In addition, Graves outlines a distinction between false and “real” love in several of the album’s roused tirades, with the staccato flow of “Bells” declaring, “We can speak the words of women and angels/ But without real love, it’s just sad noise,” and with the brittle aggression of “Work” describing how, “We make love and fall so/ And it doesn’t feel good/ It’s not magic, it’s work/ But it’s real and that’s cool.”

Quite apart from a needless digression on how this emergent notion of “real love” is potentially just as partial, restrictive, and ultimately damaging as the variety it might displace, one question still remains: how “real” are Perfect Pussy? Well, aside from this contradiction in espousing an authenticity that in being espoused will become as much a mythical trope as anything else, and aside from being dirtied slightly by the kind of disloyal hype it would prefer to avoid, Say Yes to Love is a potently wrought 22 minutes of febrile noise-punk that contains enough in the way of hook and subtle invention amidst its familiar battery to stand up on its own feet. It may not be as radical as it would like to think, and Graves’ confrontational brio might be overdone in view of the fact that most of us aren’t so naive that we need to have the falsity of conjugal and familial Bliss rammed down our throats, but it still nonetheless moves with vitality and dynamism, and it still has more going for it than the hot air of the music press.

01. Driver
02. Bells
03. Big Stars
04. Work
05. Interference Fits
06. Dig
07. Advance Upon The Real
08. VII

Links: Perfect Pussy - Captured Tracks