Deap Vally - Sistrionix

Deap Vally - Sistrionix

Smashing the patriarchy in three chords and some tongue-in-cheek lyrics.


Deap Vally first burst onto the scene with an angry, pounding manifesto of intent; “I’m gonna make my own money, gonna buy my own land.’ They’ve got the same basic idea at heart, but their absolutely frenetic and slightly terrifying brand of rock makes Virginia Woolf look rather meek in comparison. Playing off the two sparse elements of the band with thrashing aggression, much of this album is grating series of notes held up by crashing drums and Troy’s unstoppable vocals that roar and screech in one onslaught.

So far this review has used a fair bit of onomatopoeia, and that’s because, ‘Sistrionix’ is an album without much embellishment. There’s not much in the way of motif at first – unless a universal sense of loudness and sassiness counts. It’s immediate and hard-hitting in the same way as blues rock – and listening to ‘Your Love’ the link people have been making to The Black Keys and The White Stripes is unmistakable. ‘Walk of Shame’, with its bluesy chord pattern plays with an old idea particularly cleverly. Deap Vally aren’t telling the tale of Smokestack Lightnin’ or their Hoochie Coochie Man here. After presumably spending the night somewhere and doing a bit of the old horizontal tango, it’s time for the infamous ‘walk of shame’. But Troy has “sunshine in her stride”, and doesn’t seem to care or accept blame. Quite rightly. It’s not exactly Mary Wollstonecraft, but all the same Deap Vally are refusing to take shaming bullshit from anyone.

When I was 10 years old, I saved up my pocket money and bought ‘Tragic Kingdom’ by No Doubt, and like many girls my age, spent the following few years wishing I was Gwen Stefani. That album, especially ‘Just A Girl’, didn’t leave my Walkman. Enlisting several friends, we started up a rather terrible all-girl ‘punk band’, whose name shall remain secret. Perhaps wisely I eventually decided to write about other people’s music instead, but the spark was still there. Worshipping pop divas just didn’t hold the same appeal as getting shoved around sweaty punk venues with low ceilings and ear-bursting speakers. That was probably the record that first made me think about feminism, too.

Deap Vally’s ‘Sistrionix’ holds a similar kind of irresistible energy. If the next generation of kids looking for touchstones grow up hearing this kind of music, the world will be a better, and probably a far more fun place. Being a female in the music industry doesn’t deserve lauding or praising by itself. Smashing the patriarchy in three chords and some tongue-in-cheek lyrics, though? That’s musical woman power right there.