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Roseanne Barrr
Repulsion Melissa Steiner , November 15th, 2012 05:30

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There is no sensible way you could describe this as a pop album, and yet, how to explain the infectiousness of the lyric, "You came in my mouth: I smiled at you!" sung repeatedly and with deranged joy, still stuck in my head the morning after my first listen to Repulsion, the brand new LP from South London noise punk duo Roseanne Barrr.

This catchy lyric is from the first track, a siamese twin of a song: 'Letter: No Means No Mariah', which captures the essence of Repulsion, beginning as it does with the aforementioned masochistic lust, a diary entry read over punch-in-the-gut drums and crackling bass, and segueing into a mutant deconstruction of Mariah Carey's 'Touch My Body', the mad screams of the chorus evoking a looking-glass pop world in which Mariah crawls across your ceiling with her head spinning, trying to get into your pants.

Roseanne Barrr, like their namesake, is rarely subtle, and this, their second full-length release, is refreshing in its unrelenting catharsis. Made from the bowels of Patrick Staff's bass, which by turns blasts the listener raw and then creaks and taps like a neurotic person picking their cuticle, combined with Sophie Brown's dark, insistent tom-based drumming, their voices come together in a Breyer P-Orridge shriek of gender fuck, only to break apart again on the hypnotic spoken word pieces evoking cold, murderous homo-sex. Repulsion has an intensity that will pin you to your teenage bed.

Inspired by damaged queer and female artists the likes of which include Anna Kavan, Jean Genet, French philosopher Simone Weil... and uh, Mariah Carey, Roseanne Barrr have created a canon of "crazy", sometimes quoting verbatim from these artists' texts, and injecting them with a new power and a knowing hysteria.

Stand out tracks include 'Skinned Rabbit', a blistering onslaught of throat-splitting screams and strung out bass, recalling the film which gives the album its name, and 'Feed Me', a monstrous swamp thing threatening to fall apart one minute, incisive and deadly punk song the next. If the listener hadn't already grasped the musical influences of Roseanne Barrr, this is made clear with the cover of feminist no wave band Y Pants' cover of 60s singer Lesley Gore's 'That's the Way Boys Are'. Where Y Pants was content to let this song drift off with their toy instrument minimalism (albeit with backing screams), Roseanne Barrr takes it to the edge, with a full on sludgy Hole-like dissolution, and the valium-loaded statement: "I don't even cry, you just left me numb".

Split released by Primitive Records and Brighton based queer/riot grrrl label Tuff Enuff, Repulsion is dark, unsettling, queer noise, not afraid to show its visceral insides. This is the perfect antidote to the safe and sanitised assimilationism of "some people are gay, get over it", and it'll have you unconsciously mumbling the most inappropriate lyrics on your way to work in the morning.

Noel
Nov 15, 2012 11:22am

well into this album. was probably gonna feature it in my punk rock-y column but this longer review is obv much better

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JB
Nov 16, 2012 5:26am

I'm sitting here grinning wildly while listening to "No Means No Mariah", and thanking Yaweh, Jehu, Allah, or whomever that The Quietus exists- for, certainly, I would not have listened to this record were it not for this august publication.

One minor quibble- I am surely reminded of the more feral moments of the glorious Electrelane here, particularly in the vocals, and this might have borne mention.

Nonetheless, a superb and illuminating review- thanks again, TQ.

Regards,

jb

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Nov 16, 2012 4:35pm

Shriek of gender fuck? Murderous homo-sex.

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