No, this isn’t a metal album. In fact, it’s the side-project of Marissa Paternoster, the guitarist and vocalist in the excellent Screaming Females. The Females, who released their sixth album this year, Rose Mountain, have risen up from underground punk shows and hit some success with their fifth album, Ugly, in 2012. But Noun, Paternoster’s solo project, has been quietly working away in the background, with Throw Your Body… being her third and has also been surprise released. While surprise releases are almost a daily occurrence now, Throw Your Body… is still a bit of a shock considering how much the Screaming Females and Noun put out. Paternoster does something with Noun that isn’t really done enough with side projects enough – there is callbacks to what has made Paternoster such a charismatic performer (see the guitar solo on ‘Misery’ and ‘Secret Death’), but also tends to venture out to beyond where the Females might go – namely electronics and acoustic.
Paternoster tones her voice down from the shrieks she’s become known for, going for something that made ‘Hopeless’ from Rose Mountain more palatable and radio-friendly. She’s got a good voice on both sides of the spectrum and it’s more interesting to see her change her vocals for the project and sound she’s working on. Her trembling vibrato remains; one of the unique features which roots this as a Marissa Paternoster record and at times it sounds like an ungodly mix of Siouxsie Sioux and Corin Tucker at her softest, especially on ‘Child Bride’. ‘Child Bride’ showcases acoustic guitar as well as synthetic drums which work surprisingly well considering that a lot of Paternoster’s main material sounds like analogue classic rock by the way of 80s/90s punk. It’s very fitting that Throw Your Body comes out around Halloween because a lot of the record is bloody and dark, with lyrics like ‘I am a victim of all these things / blood on the wall while my siren sings’. Throats are ripped, blood runs down the walls and on ‘Heaven’, Paternoster is ‘channeling my urge to kill’. But the instrumentation isn’t goth rock, more often than not it consists of skeletal drums, blown-out bass and fiery guitar solos that would put Jimmy Page in his place (not even joking).
Though the instrumentation isn’t as punky or aggressive as the Screaming Females, in the lyrics it’s noticeably darker and brutal at times. On ‘Misery’, the track that most resembles a Screaming Females song, Paternoster sings about ‘Seal the stitch / burn the witch’ and even knocks out a killer guitar solo that would’ve fit on any of the Screaming Females latest albums, although it is noticeably short and returns back to Paternoster’s vocals very quickly. She even adds a sample at the end which sounds like something Godspeed You! Black Emperor would put on a record, with a man almost shouting ‘And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears…. and you’ve got to make it stop… and you’ve got to indicate to the people that run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all’. It almost feels like an odd bit of social commentary slotted into the album, something that doesn’t really pop up anywhere else. It’s an interesting moment, but it isn’t really followed up on Throw Your Body… anywhere else, except the title of course.
Unfortunately, at times the album feels rushed and underdeveloped. The shorter songs such as ‘Loveblood’ and ‘Child Bride’ are killed short where they could have gone further. The later parts of ‘Child Bride’, where Paternoster layers her vocals and it begins to build up promises something special, then it just ends. This, bundled with the surprise dropping of the album, might suggest that Throw Your Body… was more of a quick-week hobby project to put out over Halloween than a thought-through follow up to Paternoster’s first solo album proper – Holy Hell. It’s fine that it’s a quick job, in some situations it might result in something experimental and clever, however it’s very noticeable on Throw Your Body… that it was rushed out. More time and more polish could have delivered something that doesn’t feel like a holiday special.
Paternoster has easily followed up the Screaming Female’s Rose Mountain from earlier this year with an album that doesn’t fall into the trap of disappointing side projects. She takes inspiration from her punky primary project, but also allows herself to experiment with acoustic pop on ‘Ithaca Falls’ and ‘Feel The Darkness’ to electro pop on ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘Dirty Mind’ and it doesn’t come off like someone playing around on GarageBand, Paternoster can somehow do electronica just as well as she does punk; and that’s not something that happens very often with other artists. The problems come in that it feels like a spur of the moment project to scratch that creative itch more than anything. It’s good that Marissa is overflowing with creativity and through some polishing up Throw Your Body… is (finally) a side project worthy of investing in just as much as the main band.
Funnel Recommends: Misery / Child Bride / Ithaca Falls