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Skinny Girl Diet
Ideal Woman Jade Spencer , December 18th, 2018 07:29

Don't pigeonhole London punks as mere riot grrl copyists

Young women are often told that they should feel lucky, not angry. Things were so much worse thirty years ago, the real struggle is over; and with feminism becoming the favoured (and necessary) cause-celebre for nearly every prominent man or woman, surely there’s nothing to worry about? We’re on the final stretch towards equality, if not already there.

The reality of the situation is why it is refreshing to hear women who are angry, and who are not hiding this fact behind a veil of acceptance or irony. Ideal Woman is a visceral display of unbridled female rage: a powerful force which is often missing in music today. From this, Skinny Girl Diet have inevitably drawn comparisons to every angry feminist ‘girl band’, from Bikini Kill to The Runaways to the Slits, for their roots in punk, grunge and metal; and just for the fact that they are a group of women who aren’t singing love songs.

But comparisons like this aren’t particularly helpful in illuminating Ideal Woman as a record. The album is the product of young women’s experiences in 21st century London, however much it may nod stylistically to its feminist predecessors. Riot grrrl in particular represented too often the white, middle-class feminism of suburbia, excluding women of colour. Core band members Delilah and Ursula Holliday take aim at this white privilege in ‘White Man’: "I wish/ I was a white man/ maybe life would be easier for me… I’m a woman of colour/ so it won’t be long now."

The opening track, 'La Sirena', is typical of what’s to come: thumping, angry guitar carries the song as we’re told, “I’ll eat your heart out/ before you eat mine.” Ideal Woman does one thing and it does it well; throbbing, furious guitars and unpretentious, fierce lyrics. ‘Starfucker’ is a particularly strong track - a grungy, Nirvana-esque intro leads us into calls for "something to change" and mentions of the "chaos inside of you". These are lifted away from being platitudes by the sheer momentum of the track, and the very real wrath behind seemingly innocuous lyrics.

The desire for self-destruction also seeps out of the record’s anger. In 'Witch Of The Waste', the line is blurred between a rejection of men and an overwhelming need for self-annihilation: "I don’t give a fuck about you" turns to, "let’s get drunk/ because I want to forget about you", ending on: "She’s a slut/ and she don’t care." The battle between competing needs for resilience and release is explored during ‘Ideal Woman’ too: "I cried for you/ and I lied for you/ became something I wasn’t/ just for you", a sentiment at odds with the rapidly rising and falling pace of the track, alternating between moments of softness and jags of blind rage.