Anni Poppen, Aimee Rickman, and Sally Mundy of the Violents know you don’t need to trash a mall or wear a snarl to be punk. Throw these girls in a line-up and you’re unlikely to pick them out as mess-making punksters—no dark eyeliner, no ripped clothing, no gratuitous piercings or bizarrely colored hair: these girls do it from the heart. And, they sure as hell don’t need no fucked-up attitude to prove how nice they ain’t.
Spewing forth from somewhere in Illinois, the Violents admit to being huge fans of “new school” punk from the likes of Sleater-Kinney and Team Dresch, but they also respect their roots as obvious devotees of Bikini Kill, the Ramones, and Gary Numan. Testing this devotion in an effort to create something resembling old- and new-school punk, the girls manage to easily shift from one to the other (while adding a little of their own spice) on their debut CD, Rebecca’s Morning Voice.
The album is divided into two definite sections so that it plays like an LP. “Side one” sees the Violents embracing their softer side, with more mellow tracks in the style of Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde, before they switch off the lights and let the cat out really getting down to business on the disc’s second half.
Both “sides” of the Violents are equally as fun. With its calmer edge, the first four songs on the album are filled with melodious wailing from singers, Rickman and Poppen. These pseudo-pop rants benefit from a distinct lack of production, sounding like a demo-tape from a Saturday night sleepover adding a gorgeous, untamed edge to the music.
The band excels on the violin-enhanced “Whore”, a remarkably subdued ready-made anthem for the sexually in-control female. The song is an empowering statement regarding the state of female sexuality and abuse through the eyes of one tormented by past mistakes—“I’m not a bad person / And, I’m not a whore / And, I haven’t done a single thing that you haven’t done before.”
The album’s raucous final half is taken up with six simple songs of rough and raw energy, each belted out with a screeching vocal. Mostly about burned out relationships, whether friendly or otherwise, songs like “Say Something” (“I’m tired of you / Always fucking up / And I’m tired of us / Never giving up / It’s clear that we’re / Still not done with it”) succeed in being more than just three-minute bitchy rants, instead revealing the girls as smart and careful with their writing and arrangement.
Rebecca’s Morning Voice is an effective debut. It’s strong and energetic, playful and funny, and always unrelentingly real.