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Bratmobile

Lookout

It’s a bit odd that Bratmobile would be suspected of careerism for re-forming after a nearly five-year hiatus. You could barely call this new 14-song set a reunion album. After the band broke up, in 1994, singer Allison Wolfe and guitarist Erin Smith continued to play together with the Cold Cold Hearts. When they decided to call up drummer Molly Neuman and make a Bratmobile comeback, well, that was two years ago. Not exactly a quick cash-in. If Ladies, Women and Girls proves anything, it’s that the B-Mob, as their press bio calls the band, still has a ton of great songs to sing. Listen to “You’re Fired” and just shake the cynicism outta your head. When the band split, we lost a trio that had drawn influence from both the Northeast and Northwest indie scenes and created a trashy, stripped-down Beat Happening-damaged sound to go with its bare-bones, practical feminism. Bratmobile didn’t pose as the femme answer to the Who (Sleater-Kinney) or the Rolling Stones (Liz Phair); it connected on a much more basic level, writing songs as answers to bad boys, hecklers, and any other turds who got in their way. In Bratmobile’s absence, we got Lilith Fair and Woodstock ’99. We also got a woman doing her nails on stage in the middle of an Oswego set. And the Softies selling handbags after their shows. In the meantime, Bratmobile may have lost the intimacy of its first album, 1993’s Pottymouth, but the group hasn’t lost that record’s urgency. Wolfe’s singing has improved beyond her old-style yelling, but still bull’s-eyes all the right targets. The band has settled into a beefier sound—hey, listen, overdubs! And songs like “Gimme Brains” and “In Love With All My Lovers” click like nothing Bratmobile has done before. Ladies, Women and Girls is a welcome return. —Jason Cherkis