wears the trousers magazine

belladonna: hey weirdo! (2009)
August 12, 2009, 8:31 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Hey Weirdo! ••••

Belladonna: the name of an herbaceous plant derived from the Italian admonition ‘do not betray a beautiful lady’, a notorious American porn star, and a two-piece band from Darlington with attitude. From first listening to Hey Weirdo!, the debut album from Belladonna the band, producer Fred Purser (whose roots lie in punk band Penetration and heavy rock outfit Tygers Of Pan Tang) has not betrayed band members Claire Hill (bass) and Sarah Wilson (drums). Good job really, otherwise he might have suffered from symptoms ranging from constipation to delirium and convulsions!

Having said that, convulsions may be a common symptom of listening to Hey Weirdo! – only the good kind. Flagged as garage punk by some critics, the album definitely has some of the genre’s key ingredients: fast-paced, lo-fi fusion of garage rock and punk rock music, angular guitar sounds and electronic distortion. However, confined to the garage this album is not; far from the amateurish or naïve work that might be ground out in the suburbs, this is a well-produced, effective and infective album. Lead single ‘Don’t Be Fooled By The Romance’ received some distinguished attention, both in its original form and as remixed by McQueen and championed by Annie Mac. The album version chugs along with heavy rock guitar underpinning lyrics, yeahs and groans with strong punk attitude. A bit like a female tennis player on loop.

Aggressive female attitude is a constant throughout the album. In ‘My Law’, Belladonna declare “You won’t hear it at the disco, boy / I’m pretty sure it’s my law” as a strong percussive backbone and non-negotiable flat vocal statements uphold their authority. Oscillating within the bars and developing a loophole in the garage punk confinement is the hint of a power pop influence, characterised by honeyed Americanised vocals which curl above a rock guitar on cruise control. ‘Tornado’ reaffirms the punk slant with its controlled wailing vocals and aggressive guitar, punctuated with organ outbursts, while in ‘Cross The Line’, rock guitar and handclaps introduce some sweet, strong vocals that streak towards the chorus with “Baby, you get me on my feet” – another sprinkling of power pop given depth through electronic distortion and snaking vibrations.

Perhaps Hey Weirdo! could be garage punk, but these girls make their own rules and should not be confined to a solitary box. A well-produced album combining delicious, varied vocals, powerful guitar and drums, electronic tweaks and twists with undeniable attitude, Hey Weirdo! should induce a pleasant delirium of a type the plant cannot.

Joanne Gibson
UK release date: 10/08/09; www.myspace.com/wearebelladonna

‘Don’t Be Fooled By The Romance’


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[…] Joanne Gibson Hey Weirdo! is out now on Vandal Records [review] […]

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