I first became aware of Pettybone via the venerable–and these days, slightly smug–institution that is MRR, when they featured this multi-national, UK-based quartet in their "new band" slot a few months ago. There is something about female-fronted punk/hardcore bands I find intriguing. More often than not, it's got to do with the different vocal sound one gets when listening to the band that adds a new dimension that male-fronted bands just cannot achieve. Other times it's just because of the lyrical content, which is frequently of a different nature, or comes from a different angle.
Although their demo had something going for it, their debut album really does place Pettybone at the forefront of the UK hardcore/punk (whichever genre, tag, etc., you want to label the band with) scene. It's an amalgam of pure hardcore rage directed towards a variety of targets across society, offset by some hypnotic blues-style punk that permeates a number of tracks, ensuring that what you get is not just a one-dimensional approach (the hidden track is very much a blues-inspired piece of work).
Opening with the track "Pettybone", which is referred to as their manifesto, it would seem as if a huge flag is being unfurled under which everyone who feels oppressed, separated, downtrodden and/or without an outlet for their objections to the world can come together as one, to feel as if there is a way forward and potentially a way out of their situation(s). There may be a hint of a Utopian view there, but nevertheless it's a call to arms, for if one doesn't rebel then there is no chance of a better outcome and you can't say you've given it your all. To say that this song resonates more given recent events across England would be to miss a huge point of what it is about. Although it's purely not just a backing track to the riots, it's so much more than that–it's the sound of a potential revolution taking place. Here, Pettybone have set their stall out and it's possible to see their rallying call as a song for hope as much as a reflection of the bleakness that is spread across the UK (and beyond).
With Ivona providing vocals that can swing from an almost relaxed indie feel to a Linda Blair Exorcist-style scream in an instant, it demonstrates that Pettybone are able to add variety to what they do. Searing guitars and an extremely rhythmic bass, aided and abetted violently by a highly destructive-sounding drum attack, the music certainly has a visceral quality to it that draws me in, much more than bands like Gallows ever managed to do.
I feel that to attempt to dissect the lyrics could do a disservice to Pettybone–the best thing for anyone who might be interested in the band could do is read them, along with the brief descriptions to the songs on their website . This should easily give an insight into what the band is all about, other than creating an all-encompassing musical assault.
Picking a favourite song is easy here–"I Love You! Oh, Say It with Cobblestones!" really has something about it that makes it my standout track here. I'm not too sure I can explain what that something is, but it's there!
It would be a huge shame if Pettybone were only considered of interest to readers of MRR (most of whom would be already singing from the same song sheet as the band itself) and those already aware of the band, as they demand, rather than deserve, a wider audience. Check them out, read the lyrics, go and see the band, seek out their demo (you can download it for free from the internet), but don't ignore them, as to do so will be tantamount to sitting back and saying that there is no need to fight back and that all is fine with the world. Help them carry that flag.