Petrol Girls have released another acerbic and insightful new track from forthcoming album ‘Baby’. “Lyrically, ‘Preachers‘ is my way of kicking back at this preachy, saintly, holier-than-thou vibe you get sometimes in radical left communities,” says vocalist Ren Aldridge. “I get very frustrated by the lack of nuance sometimes, and the way people seem so much more interested in punishing individuals than building resilient communities of care. And I hate the way that women and marginalised genders are held to such a way higher standard than cis-men.
I’m absolutely not saying that we shouldn’t criticise each other or that we should let things like sexual violence slide. But I think we have a lot of questions to ask ourselves collectively in terms of how we deal with harm, conflict, and abuse, and differentiate between them. I’ve been learning so much about transformative justice, which is where abolitionist politics and activism against gender based violence really come together, and was very inspired by Adrienne Maree Brown’s book ‘We Will Not Cancel Us.’
I also just really needed to reject this pressure to always act and speak completely perfectly, which has had a severe impact on my mental health by putting me in a constant state of hyper-vigilance and piling up alongside other pressures to make me mentally collapse. For me, our new album is so much about recovering from that severe depressive episode, and a crucial part of that was saying fuck it, I will never do enough, I will always make mistakes, but as long as I am true to my values and reflective that’s fucking fine.”
‘Baby’, recorded at Middle Farm Studios with producer Pete Miles, is set for release 24 June via Hassle Records. It opens with 28 seconds of noise (made from a mash of sounds on the record) before launching into ‘Preachers’. And that song that sets the tone for the rest of the album both sentimentally and musically. “There’s a lot of preachers here but I don’t see no saints,” Aldridge sings through a smirk you can practically hear. “Lot of fingers pointing, palms sweating under red paint…” The self-aggrandising nature of call-out culture and moral one-upmanship is put on blast from start to finish with lyrics like “feeling dead important in the comments”, while a post-punk instrumental veers between angular riffs and a power chord chorus. During the writing process, guitarist Joe York became interested in “minimalism and madness”, taking influence from everything from electronic music and hip hop to New Wave bands like Talking Heads in terms of groove, repetition and playfulness – all of which is put in the shop window on ‘Preachers’.
“We wanted to make sure the first track was one that showed this different musical direction, because as well as moving away from sanctimoniousness, politically and vocally, we also wanted to make the music more stripped back and fun,” Aldridge explains. This is one reason why cheekier tracks like the proudly pro-choice single ‘Baby, I Had An Abortion’ and the unceremoniously titled ‘Clowns’ – built around a guitar riff Aldridge describes as sounding “like the morning after Boomtown” – are front-loaded, easing you in gently before hitting you with tracks like ‘Fight For Our Lives’ (ft. Janey Starling of feminist organisation Level Up) and ‘Violent By Design’ which deal with the heavier topics of femicide and police brutality.
Petrol Girls UK Tour Dates:
07 July Le Pub Newport (headline)
08 July 2000trees Festival Cheltenham
09 July BST Hyde Park with Pearl Jam London
10 July The Green Door Store Brighton (headline)