Potty Mouth - Hell Bent

by Steve Reynolds Rating:7.5 Release Date:2013-09-16

Potty Mouth are four girls from Western Massachusetts: Abby Weems (vocals, guitar), Ally Einbender (bass), Phoebe Harris (guitar), Victoria Mandanas (drums). They're band very much in their infancy but what their debut offers is a bold as brass, almost arrogant take on punk which belies their years.

In some circles of the music review world, Potty Mouth have been unfairly labelled as grunge and pop-punk. I would instantly dispute both of those claims on the basis that pop-punk is throwaway and gave us short-wearing pubescent crap such as Sum 41 and Alien Ant Farm. Potty Mouth's sound and delivery is much more endearing and longer-lasting than that. Grunge is also off the radar quite simply because their attitude and aggression is aligned to the punk ethos of, say, X-Ray Spex. There is no flab on their debut, Hell Bent, just 10 songs of taut power, hooks and hollering aplenty.

Hell Bent has a rustic, shabby chic feel it. 'The Gap' is a suitable starter, all melodic, stop-start guitar action, but underpinned by a thunderously low-rent rhythm section: "I've heard a million times/ what's gonna get you there/ I've heard a million times/ I dunno who cares". A throwaway comment perhaps that if you wanna orgasm then self-pollution might be fitting, I am not saying they are feminists in the Pussy Riot mould but you can see what they are driving at here. 'Rusted Shut', meanwhile, is inexorable, a freight train running off its tracks at breakneck speed with not a fucking prayer of stopping, played with abandon.

What's very clever about this album is the band's easy ability to strike an instant resonance with the listener and wire into your brain. Take 'The Spins', full of melody and strong, clean lines of guitar. Quite a masterstroke to pull off for a band so young. Yes, the production is relatively low-key but I think it's probably much more representative of what they do live on stage. There are also post punk leanings inked across their songs, such as the Delta 5-influenced 'Damage' and Wire-like art-rock arrangement of 'Wishlist'.

Hell Bent is an album of unbridled power, confidence and steely urgency, summed up by the anger of 'Shithead'. Its belligerent delivery and pummelling drums encapsulate Potty Mouth perfectly. Let's hope they have plans to pop across the pond and enlighten us a little further as soon as possible.

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