The SoapGirls are two French born South African sisters - bassist/vocalist Ca(Millie) and guitarist/vocalist Noe(MIE) Debray - who play what they call 'Revolt Rock'. 'Societys Rejects' is their new full-length offering and, with an uncredited drummer completing the album's lineup, they might be minimalist in constitution, but the music proves to be massive in delivery... in all respects, and lives up to their self-proclaimed genre. Maybe best described as punk-edged garage/grunge rock, that's only part way to understanding just what we have here. Sure, on the surface, songs, in their general composition, could be aligned with said styles, but there's a lot of depth to the music, too. Bursting with raw energy and a whole heap of attitude, The SoapGirls' songs also convey so much heart, passion, and... well... revolt... both sonically and lyrically, in their fervently underpinned sentiments.
Seemingly averse to apostrophes - the album's title (and title track), 'Sams on Crack' and 'Waters Edge' are all missing punctuation - I presume this to be a purposeful bending of grammatical rules... after all, we are talking about a couple of rebels here. Even Mie's choice of axe will be an eyebrow-raiser for guitar aficionados out there. An Ibanez Jem, due to its Vai origins, has a general affiliation with musical virtuosity... so it's cool to see and hear one used in a more unlikely context. And I don't mean that to sound patronising in any small way. Mie has fine fretboard abilities within The SoapGirls' modus operandi.
An integral part of The SoapGirls' aesthetic also centres around a bold and powerful display of female sexuality. These two ladies exercise their art beyond all the faux, stereotyped images of what's expected of a female or male performer within the parameters of restrictive mediums of commercial artistic expression. Parameters seemingly don't exist within The SoapGirls' world... they are just who they are. It's partly what underlines their art with both sincerity and authenticity... and the music itself is a sincere and authentic expression of their beliefs and provocations. In fact, The SoapGirls offer up a provocative experience in more ways than one. Their lyrical discourse will undoubtedly engender a degree of cognitively charged provocations amongst many listeners. This is music that stirs the mind as much as the feelings.
So, yes, songs are loaded with scathing socio-political commentary and critique, as well as other various cultural and personal polemics. And the vocal deliveries are wide in stylistic scope, that make songs' messages all the more emphatic. Alternating between rock grit, a punked-up rawness (and controlled dissonance), angelic, poppy, and a smattering of screams, snarls and growls, it makes for a fully engaging listen. There are even moments of soulful vocal infusions, such as in 'Original Sin' and 'Party in Hell'. There are passages characterised by heavied-up fury and rage in 'Break You', which are followed by the calmer, more reflective Debbie Harry/Blondie-esque 'Bury Me'. It's an album of contrasts, for sure.
Bottom-line (looking at the cover, no pun intended), 'Societys Rejects' offers up just over 55 minutes of raw rock 'n' roll entertainment that delivers contemplative, inspirational and empowering messages. How they've chosen to present themselves, while some will inevitably dismiss it all as titillation, I'm sure it will transcend mere judgements of sexualisation for many others. Russian philosopher, Voloshinov, observed, nine decades ago: "All periods of social decline and disintegration are characterised by overestimation of the sexual in life and in ideology." ('Freudianism: A Critical Sketch', 1927). We live in a different world now, although his words still ring true. This is why the world needs bands such as The SoapGirls, to compel people into thinking beyond the norm.
Review by Mark Holmes
21st July 2017
1) Societys Rejects
2) Johnny Rotten
3) Waters Edge
4) Party in Hell; 5) Air
6) Step Outside; 7) Original Sin
8) Sams on Crack
9) You Hate Losing
10) Drag You Down
11) Play With Fire
12) Break You; 13) Bury Me
14) Bad Bitch; 15) Rather B Dead
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the world needs bands such as The SoapGirls, to compel people into thinking beyond the norm."