(Self-released, CD, digital download)
A hypothetical: Waking up one fine morning with an uncomfortable and mysterious burning sensation in your nether regions would be upsetting, infuriating and—most likely—shocking. And, sure, dirty. This is the rude awakening that opens the lady-led Dirty Blondes' latest release, Sex the Elastic. The song is called “Burn” and, unsurprisingly, it is upsetting, infuriat-ed, shocking and kinda dirty. The remaining 12 tracks that make up Sex the Elastic follow suit.
The faux-anthemic sing-along “Kung Pao” opens with a nod to the Vapors’ new-wave ’80s hit “Turning Japanese” and then ventures forth as vocalists Rev. Diane Sullivan and Rebecca Rogers list off a number of vessels available for the well-loved spice concoction — notably chicken, tofu, dog … and pussy. There’s not much substance here—a list and an innuendo—but the song is just what it intends to be: loud and fun. It does not give a fuck, nor do its performers. Perhaps a song like this could be construed as offensive, but it’s not.
The real offense comes on the track “Oh Dirty Blondes,” when the band borrows the melodic structure of John Lennon’s beautifully blunt love letter “Oh Yoko!” and just butchers the hell out of it. With lyrics such as “In the middle of a fuck I call your name. / Oh, Dirty Blondes,” the band makes you wonder if there isn’t a law against this kind of thing. (There damn well should be!) But, again … loud and fun. And perhaps shock value is fundamentally valuable.
You hardly have to listen to tracks with names like “Slut,” “Too Drunk,” “Jackin’ Off” and “Yayo” to know what they’re going to be about and how they’re going to be delivered.
“Toddy Song” provides a nice little curveball in the midst of the tongue-in-cheek, dirty-minded mists of Sex the Elastic. Complete with an out-of-left-field banjo line courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Jesse Azarian, and backing vocals that recall Kim Deal (of the Pixies until recently), “Toddy Song” doesn’t seem to belong on this record. It’s too serious and arranged too well. And (call me a square) it’s the album’s best track.
The goofy, balls-out, in-your-face mentality of Sex the Elastic, from the record’s name to its cover and deep into the songs themselves, is consistent and nothing short of, as the band puts it, “punk as fuck.” Dirty Blondes make it explicitly clear that their goal is not to expand your mind’s musical horizons or to help you transcend your everyday bullshit. Rather, Dirty Blondes would prefer to pre-game, party and go to bed with you.
Sex the Elastic by Dirty Blondes is available at dirtyblondesvt.bandcamp.com.
(Full disclosure: Seven Days art director Diane Sullivan is a member of Dirty Blondes.)