Childbirth’s last album, It’s A Girl, was a punk album that didn’t take itself too seriously. Titles such as ‘I Only Fucked You As A Joke’ and ‘How Do Girls Even Do It?’ could be misread, but it really was a middle finger to masculine punk where men are allowed to describe their primal desires, urges and fears but for some reason women aren’t. It felt like a callback to barebones Riot-Grrrl punk and also aligned Childbirth with the bands that the members are also attached to: Tacocat, Ponytime and Chastity Belt. Whilst Ponytime and Tacocat are sisters to Childbirth; bearing the same bratty punk, Childbirth is a more aggressive release for Julia Shapiro, who is a member of Chastity Belt, a band who came into their own on this year’s Time To Go Home. So Women’s Rights sees Shapiro attack with the same force that Chastity Belt did on ‘The Thing’, albeit alongside bandmembers who are more inclined to get punky.
Go beyond the titles and tight instrumentation is hidden behind layers of humour. ‘Let’s Be Bad’ has the best drumming on the record and contains all of the best power-chord and noise-rock moments on Women’s Rights. The lyrics also lose some of the more humour-heavy songs with lyrics like ‘Let’s be bad / It’s a lady’s right’, switching up between whispers and yells. Shapiro’s delivery throughout Women’s Rights is spot on, usually in a deadpan tone which you can’t help laugh at when bundled with lyrics like ‘Dick pic, swipe left’ on ‘Siri, Open Tinder’. ‘Siri…’ is a track which might not age very well, but for now, have you ever heard such a modern track? It consists of call-and-answer vocals from Shapiro and Bree McKenna, who offers hilarious backing vocals throughout the record on tracks like ‘Nasty Grrls’ and ‘Siri…’. The instrumentation is a little familiar compared to the rest of the album, but the four-chord repetition is exactly what you’d expect from a punk band so don’t go expecting Pink Floyd guitar solos and spoken word passages about socio-political issues.
‘Will You Let The Dogs In?’ is suspiciously similar to ‘Who Let The Dogs Out?’, although as a thrashy punk song. If you’ve ever looked into what ‘Who Let The Dogs Out?’ actually means, it’s about ugly women. When Shapiro sings ‘If you let the dogs out, you better let them back in’, it’s finally a response to the revoltingly sexist original track. It’s only taken 15 years to correct, but it’s been done. The majority of tracks here are laugh-out-loud-worthy punk songs which are very sure that they want to create a picture of feminism in the digital age, with tracks like ‘Tech Bro’ where Shapiro sings ‘I’ll let you explain feminism to me / If I can use your HDTV’. Childbirth even criticise the inner-feminist arguments with ‘I’m More Fertile Than You’, which has a title that speaks for itself. Serious topics like pregnancy, sex, gender politics all get thrown into the Childbirth machine and they make them funny but also meaningful. Even if it seems like Childbirth are joking around with Women’s Rights, there’s meaning behind the jokes.
As a self-proclaimed ‘supergroup’, Childbirth are everything that is good with Chastity Belt, Ponytime and Tacocat mixed together into a hilarious but flammable cocktail. Yes, their song titles are funny. But they finally make punk rock fun again, going against the political and po-faced punk bands that take themselves way too seriously. Sometimes, Women’s Rights seems like it’ll be easily forgotten very quickly with tracks like ‘Siri, Swipe Left’ or ‘@Julia Shapiro’, but it isn’t trying to be a timeless masterpiece. It’s more of a freezeframe of where each member is with their music. It may not be very familiar in twenty years, but for now, Women’s Rights are back on the agenda in more ways than one.
Funnel Recommends: Tech Bro / Let’s Be Bad / @Julia Shapiro