Retard Disco

Partyline’s 18-minute-long debut album (following last year’s Girls With Glasses EP) has more energy than a couple of teenagers in a dark bedroom and is nearly as subtle. Former Bratmobile frontwoman Allison Wolfe lays her rage against the right on the table with the opener, “Party-n-Animal”: “You got the pigs/You got the prez/You ain’t pro-life/All about death.” Still confused? “You Christian fucks, see what I mean,” she continues. And while Christian-hating and Bush-bashing are important issues to Partyline, a lot of Zombie Terrorist feels like a demonstration in search of a cause. Wolfe, guitarist Angela Melkisethian, and drummer Crystal Bradley are feminists. Sarcastic feminists. “Trophy Wifey” cries crocodile tears over a husband’s treatment of his housewife. “Go out and buy a wife/’Cuz you really need her,” Wolfe sings, “Then you beat her.” Then they suggest said wife embrace anger and even rebellion with “Ladies’ Room,” in which the words “Fuck your dishes!”are punctuated with the sound of smashing china. So, yes, girls rock. And things ain’t equal. But wait, maybe men aren’t completely evil. “Baby, don’t leave me,” Wolfe sings in “X-Hearts.” “Baby, forgive me/what should I do? I don’t believe in/Nothing but the politics of you.” Is this sarcasm, a chronicle of unhealthy dependency, or a songwriter with a short attention span? The songs fly by so quickly that you don’t have time to ponder such questions. Partyline’s punk noise is driven by vintage riot-grrrl cymbal-clashing and ’80s-style guitar, augmented by sound effects: phones ringing, hands clapping, fingers snapping. Every moment of the album has a consistently fast beat, and Wolfe manages to make her staccato monotone damn catchy. The title song is practically hypnotic—guitar riffs match the changed lyrics, the rhythm altered only by the interruption of a news report of zombies invading, which the ladies put in perspective by, yes, bashing the right: “We’re scared of zombies/Not terrorists/You’re scared of everything/That you don’t seem to get.” The album’s lows, however, are nearly unbearable, like in “Earthling,” when Wolfe drops a painful rhyme: “All you Earthlings/Take me to your leader/All you Earthlings/Take me to your dealer.” As protest songs, these don’t accomplish much, but it is fun to shout along with the parts that go “Hey!” and “Woo!”—Kim Gooden