PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Bad Cop / Bad Cop: Warriors

Photo: Lindsey Byrnes

Catchy, retro pop punk with a current feminist outlook. But a lot more fun than the previous sentence makes it sound.


Bad Cop / Bad Cop

Warriors

Label: Fat Wreck Chords
US Release Date: 2017-06-16
UK Release Date: 2017-06-16
Amazon
iTunes

Listening to Warriors, Bad Cop / Bad Cop’s second album, is almost like time traveling to the late ‘90s. Granted, the Fat Wreck Chords label hasn’t changed its approach since that time, but Bad Cop / Bad Cop nails the melodic punk style that came to define the label during its ascendancy. Lyrically this is an album firmly set in 2017, but it’s not like the social issues the band is raising weren’t also issues in the ‘90s.

The album opens with a heavy hitter. “Retrograde” features a strong guitar riff right out of the gate and a fierce vocal delivery from guitarist Stacey Dee. Her snotty, nasal singing makes her an aural dead ringer for the Muffs’ Kim Shattuck, but the strong harmonizing backing vocals sweeten the sound considerably. The backing vocals are a highlight throughout the album, popping up very effectively to add layers of harmony and countermelody.

Bassist Linh Le sings the second song, “I’m Done”, a harder-edged track with a traditional galloping punk beat and chugging guitar chords. The lyrics are a passionate plea for equality, throwing out phrases like “micro aggressions” and “masculine myth”. Her singing voice is intense and full of body, and it tickled another old Fat Wreck reference in my brain. This reference didn’t lock in until “Warriors”, Le’s other lead vocal track on the album. Musically the song is relatively standard, charging pop punk, but it’s an excellent showcase for Le’s voice. That voice turns out to be another audio twin, this time of Tilt singer Cinder Block. Block was always a terrific singer constrained by middling songwriting, and Bad Cop / Bad Cop is already ahead of Tilt in that department.

Dee returns to sing third track “Womanarchist”, a lively, catchy feminist statement. She throws shade at everyone she can think of, from bigots and misogynists to Trump (“Not this fascist president”), but also alt-left liberals. She identifies herself as a “Punk rock existentialist / Who wants to make the whole world feminist.” In the latter line, the instruments all fall away except for a lingering guitar chord before kicking in again as the vocals end. This is a trick NOFX has used for decades, and it’s maybe the album’s clearest reminder that Fat Wreck label chief (and NOFX vocalist) Fat Mike was a co-producer here.

Guitarist Jennie Cotterill finishes out the album’s trio of feminist songs with “Why Change a Thing?” It features a nice guitar arpeggio riff in the chorus, a strong melody line, and a flat-out great bridge. The sarcastic lyrics take on businessman types who still cling to ‘60s-style masculine ideals but can’t see the world changing around them. Cotterill’s standout track, though, is the album’s slow, big beat centerpiece “Amputations”. It’s an angry kiss-off to Dee, whose drinking during the tour for Bad Cop / Bad Cop’s first album got so bad that they had to cancel the tour and send her to rehab. But Dee came out the other side refocused and ready to go.

And Dee deserves credit for writing the songs with the catchiest hooks and clearest premises on the album. “Victoria” is an earworm about a 13-year-old who committed suicide. It’s a sad story anchored by the line “There’s no glory in dysphoria / Victoria.” The song is relatively short on lyrics, but Dee sketches in enough detail for the story to have weight. “Broken”, which not coincidentally follows “Amputations”, is a self-reflection where she comes to terms with her own choices and past justifications. It helps that the chorus, “I’m broken / What an easy way out,” is a great big sing along. “Kids” is about a bad neighbor who beats up on his children and her anger at his behavior. Dee’s rhyming “beat” with “defeat”, “treat”, and “cheat” in the chorus is pretty lazy, but there is specificity in the lyrics that makes up for it. Also, she includes the great turns of phrase “irrelevant inebriate” and “legit don’t hit your kids,” and those won me back over.

Warriors is an album that manages to be both fun and thoughtful. Bad Cop / Bad Cop’s style sounds retro at this point, but they’re very good at it. It was interesting to listen to their lyrics, which in 2017 mostly seem like mainstream, center-left punk viewpoints. Had this album come out in 1997, the music would fit right in, but lyrically Bad Cop / Bad Cop would have been positioned as a feminist version of Fat’s stridently left-wing anarchists Propagandhi. It’s an illustration, intended or not, of how those viewpoints have evolved over the past 20 years.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.