Deap Vally's latest is a hard-hitting and empowering record for the masses.
From blues rock to riot grrrl, Deap Vally is blazing a trail through the rockosphere. Since the 2013 debutSistronix, Lindsey Troy (guitar and vocals) and Julie Edwards (drums and vocals) have graced ears with a magnificent blend of old and new rock, with new record Femejism bringing riot grrrl for the old and a heaver spin upon the new. Packing a punch to the face of misogynists whilst flying the flag for girl empowerment, Troy and Edwards spew far more social commentary here than before, producing exactly what the underground gals of the 90s had and transforming themselves into the girl power messiahs of the 21st century.
Covering double standards, the gender pay gap, and body shaming, the kick-ass duo hits it where it hurts to give young girls something to strive for. They have the right attitude in terms of spouting feminism, giving a double entendre of wanting to be unashamed of perfection, but also not minding the idea of some aspects of it “And I am not ashamed of my mental state / And I am not ashamed of my body weight / And I am not ashamed of my rage / And I am not ashamed of my age / And I am not ashamed of my sex life,” Troy sings in ‘Smile More.’ “Although I wish it were better / I am not ashamed / I am no one’s wife / Although the idea does sound kind of nice.”
Deap Vally’s newly adopted and fleshed-out sound comes from their departure from the major label Island, with which they released Sistronix, in favour of the greater creative freedom that independent labels would allow. With regard to how the record came about, Edwards told Rolling Stone, “We had complete freedom. We basically financed the record ourselves, and there was nobody waiting to hear versions or demos or give input or anything like that. We had this beautiful, wonderful freedom to express our creativity and vision and our points of view.”
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s very liberating and really empowering. It’s super challenging, but it’s also realistic in a way. Rather than us chasing this mythological dream of someone making everything happen for us, or everything happening with us understanding the way it works, we’re fully aware of the inner workings of the machine. It’s fun to get in there and be creative with the way we’re going to take ourselves through it.”
The album itself is a compendium of a variety of heavy genres that dominated the scene in the 90s, all of which seem to be crawling back to the mainstream. There’s two stoner rock anthems in ‘Little Baby Beauty Queen’ and ‘Royal Jelly,’ the funk-addled, beat-filled ‘Post Funk’, the part-acoustic ballad ‘Critic’ shaming internet trolls, the Sleater Kinney-esque ‘Julian,’ and the trippy, fuzz-enduced ‘Turn It Off’.
Femejism is not only more exciting than Sistronix, but it serves as a welcome reintroduction into the pillars of rock that get entirely overshadowed by the mainstream. I have a feeling that Deap Vally is going to be the forerunner of a revolution, much like Nirvana helmed the grunge explosion in the era from which Deap Vally flourishes.
Femejism is out now via Cooking Vinyl