Published Sep 14, 2016Society has a polarizing relationship with the "f" word — no, not that one. Feminism. It draws equal parts ire and support, but Deap Vally aren't afraid to place it at the rowdy heart of their new album, Femejism.
The Los Angeles-based blues-rock duo of Lindsey Troy (guitar/vocals) and Julie Edwards (drums/vocals) came out swinging with Sistrionix in 2013, their brash style drawing comparisons to the White Stripes, Led Zeppelin and the Black Keys. Sistrionix was a fun listen, but it often felt one-note. Femejism is still replete with the fuzzed-out power chords and snarling vocals now synonymous with Deap Vally, but Troy and Edwards flex their creativity further here. There's more melodic contrast within this album's track list, offsetting down-and-dirty stompers like the opening number "Royal Jelly" with stripped-down tunes like "Critic," in which Troy talk-sings a scathing retort aimed at anyone armed with a keyboard and an opinion.
Unapologetic spitfire lyrics, driven by Troy's Joan Jett-meets-Patti Smith voice, dominate each song, whether it's a sorry-not-sorry battle cry to live your own life ("Gonnawanna"), combating male expectations (recent single "Smile More") or the permanence and consequences of our online culture ("Two Seat Bike"). It's all backed by Edwards' frenetic percussion.
Femejism is a powerhouse album that exudes defiant independence without succumbing to tropes, but there are moments where it falters — the overly abrasive yelling on "Little Baby Beauty Queen" comes to mind. The record demands multiple spins, and it just might inspire more women to make some noise in the male-dominated rock world. (Nevado)