A sample of Joan Jett screaming her empowering, button-poppin’ statement, “I don’t give a damn about my reputation,” is accompanied by Peaches screaming, “I don’t give a fuck!” and “I don’t give a shit!” Peaches screams these dirty words so many times, that at first, what seems like silly fun becomes a juvenile thumping bore. This girl thinks she’s Madonna de Sade, but she’s more Vanity 6. This is not a bad thing. But I wish a gal with such gleeful guts had more to say.
Fatherfucker is Peaches’ latest, a racy album with frequent mentions of her crotch and your dick and tits. “You make my panties go pink,” she exclaims. I love rebellious female sexual rock: Ms Jett, Patti Smith, Ludus, Lil’ Kim, Millie Jackson… I could go on for days. Peaches, Berlin-based Canadian art-rapper Merrill Nisker, seems too focussed on being a naughty grrrl, falling flat lyrically and musically. But as Duran Duran said, “When she shines she really shows you all she can.”
“I U She” is great Ramones-meets-Soft Cell pop. It’s a stripped down synth number. “I don’t have to make the choice, I like girls and I like boys.” Good stuff.
“Kick It” features Iggy Pop and Peaches in a sweet fun rockin’ duet. They’re wicked cheerleaders extolling their non-conforming ways. “I used to slash myself up,” or “I’m not 16, but I’ve got leather boots and sweat.” Kiki Dee and Elton they’re not. On “Shake Yer Dix,” Peaches just wants you to shake your dicks and tits. But the production is so goddamn awful. It needs a Timbaland/Missy Elliot-like touch to make it the brilliant club anthem it can be. It’s a classic waiting for a remix.
The last track “Bag It” is where I hope Peaches is heading (as a writer and performer). This is a perfect dance track with lovely beeps, beats and hooks.
Peaches raps with whispers and Gwen Guthrie angst. “I’m a little ambitious and I want my wishes/ So I gotta get fictitious/ Sid Vicious doin’ all my dirty dishes.” And “You go extreme when you get with me/ Do you know what I mean?” Indeed.
On Shelby Lynne’s 2000 album I Am Shelby Lynne, she made a haunting, powerful statement (think Dusty Springfield in a blue bayou funk) singing “I’m lookin’ up for the next thing that brings me down.”
Her new album Identity Crisis is a bare-bones, crying-in-your-beer piece of work. All the songs are written and produced by Shelby with mixed results.
There are times where the production gets a tad stale and needs to be fleshed out. But she’s a tender, sad gal who can still seduce you with twangy guitars, violins and a fragile voice that speaks of lost loves, gold-diggers and what ifs.
On “Telephone,” simple guitar riffs and surfer music twang accompany her as she ponders life’s hardships, aging and phoning her soon to be ex. “I never really thought you would answer/ Now it’s a big blown up thing/ I wish you hadn’t been home/ When the telephone rang.”
“If I Were Smart” is a beautiful sad love song, just a voice, guitar and violins. “If I were smart,” she sings, “I wouldn’t have a heart.” “I’m Alive” is a dark morbid work that manages to be a celebration of life and emotions. “Oh, if I don’t get you back/ I’ll fall upon a railroad track/ And let the steel wheels cut right through my bones.”
My favourite is “Baby,”a Les Paul, Mary Ford type song with a breezy back and forth swing as Shelby’s multi-tracked harmonies innocently sing, “Sail me, sail me, let’s float away, take me to heaven.”
There are also a few bluesy rock numbers and even an homage to Patsy Cline. This is definitely an album that grows on you after a few listens. Get it.
* Shelby Lynne performs in Toronto on Mon, Oct 27 at the Horseshoe Tavern (368 Queen St W). Doors are 9pm; she goes on at 10:45pm. Tix cost $20; call 870-8000.
XL Recordings. $16.99