From the first snare hit to the last double entendre, this record fucking kills! I usually try to avoid profanity in reviews, but for this case an exception is needed, not only because of the name of the EP, but because Lois Righteous’ debut hums with a boisterous fury, an energy which resides at the most visceral level without seeming forced or theatrical. The unrestrained masterwork bounces between crass innuendo and scintillating political observations, but rather than rely on the shocking nature of the subject matter or the cleverness which the trio deconstruct right wing bullshit, the band reels the listener in with their casual chemistry and delightfully scrappy riffs.
The record kicks off with “Sexual Pie Party,” an ode to decent sex and a snide callout to fuckboys everywhere. From there the trio address scene politics, national politics, and everything in between. If you think that’s a lot of ground for a six-track EP to cover, you’re not alone. “We started out writing dumb songs about Tindr and all the stupid shit we would do when we were drunk,” the band explains via email. “Then we got more into writing about street harassment and rape culture. Then we wrote about The X-Files. Then Trump got elected so we had enough rage and subsequent material to finish the EP and then some.” Yet, despite the wide variety of topics, the band’s casual style keeps the album from feeling rushed or scattered.
For those new to the group, the trio is comprised of Beth Cunningham on drums and vocals, Lisa Highfill on guitar and vocals, and Whitney Hansen on bass. The chemistry of the group is woven in to the structure of the EP, and is especially visible in the collaborative nature of their songwriting: The band formed simply because the three friends wanted to hang out more often. But even if their main intent was to drink beers on a porch, the EP proves they succeeded at much more. “Usually we write lyrics together which is sometimes a terrible idea but we power through anyway,” the group says. “We want it to be as collaborative as possible.” This teamwork is what keeps the album moving, and powers the band’s ability to expand simple ideas into concise, yet fully developed tracks.
The lo-fi form of punk that Lois Righteous utilize has roots in the earliest iterations of the genre, but the band’s mix of sixties garage and Riot Grrrl energy is perfect for their uncensored delivery. They rely on the same punchy tempo throughout the album without inserting any meandering post-punk, and it’s clear that any deviation from their lo-fi formula would dilute the band’s messaging, not to mention kill the flow of the record.
The trio wrote and recorded RUDE over a period of seven months in Hansen’s living room with help from Seth Bolton (Ill Poacher, ex-Mood Rings). Although Highfill has been playing guitar since middle school, Hansen and Cunningham were still learning their instruments throughout the recording process. This learning curve was evident in the tentativeness of early performances, but is invisible in the tight cuts found on the record. Cunningham in particular tackles the kit with the energy of someone possessed, bashing on the toms with a ferocious consistency that must have given her a headache by the time they finished tracking drums.
Despite all the clever rhymes and lyrics, RUDE invokes a gut reaction rather than an intellectual response, and therein lies the power of Lois Righteous. Catharsis can be as physical as it is emotional, and the band delivers a hefty serving of both throughout the EP. Still, verbal barbs can only do so much in a world beset by evil on all sides, a fact the trio is well aware of. “Protest music is just a catalyst, really,” they explain. “It can get you pumped, but you have to actually act on the emotion that it brings up in order for it to mean anything. We hope our music gives people the courage to combat injustice when they see it.”
Lois Righteous will celebrate the release of the RUDE EP tonight at 529 alongside Lingua Franca, Nihilist Cheerleader, and MonteQarlo. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $7. 18+ to enter.