Petrol Girls - Cut & Stitch (Cover Artwork)

Petrol Girls

Cut & Stitch (2019)

Hassle Records

England’s Petrol Girls released their incendiary debut, Talk of Violence, back in November 2016. It was a time of escalating tension and right-ward turns in culture, encapsulated with Brexit and Trump. And well, about three years later, both Brexit and Trump are still around and we’ve spent three years debating these cultural shifts that have arisen in their wake. One of these is the #MeToo movement, and the outward and explicit feminism proudly proclaimed by Petrol Girls place them firmly in that cultural discussion. And it is within this climate that Petrol Girls return with their equally intense Cut & Stitch.

I’ve always thought of Petrol Girls as the UK’s answer to War on Women. Both are outspoken with their feminism, absolutely in your face with though-provoking, personal lyrics, and their brand of hardcore rages with an intensity to match their lyrics. Lines like “They think their owed our labour / They think they’re owed our bodies / They think they’re owed the earth / They think they own the earth” from “Tangle of Lives” or “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard / But I think UP YOURS” from the brilliantly snarky “Big Mouth,” are spitted forth with such frothing rage and venom, calling out the institutions of the opposition. “Big Mouth” is one of the highlights of Cut & Stitch, and probably one of my favorite Petrol Girls songs all told, masterfully mixing in the dynamics of spoken word, more melodic singing, and your traditional hardcore shout, all while being the auditory equivalent of that “Well behaved women seldom make history” bumper sticker. Along with “The Sound” (This is the sound, take it / Make your own noise”), “Big Mouth” is a call for action, a demand that you involve yourself with the world.

The idea of cut and stitch is that, as the band explains, work is never done, you can always keep improving, adding in new elements. “We’re not finished / We never fucking will be,” as they proudly proclaim in the triumphant closing of the record on “Naïve.” One new element, which feels very much like it was cut from elsewhere and stitched into the Petrol Girls pattern, is the presence of interludes. They’re short, never going over a minute, and definitely give you the opportunity to breath, as they are more ambient noise than blistering hardcore. I can understand their inclusion, but they almost feel like they’re holding the message back for me. Cut & Stitch feels like a radical speech from atop a soapbox, the message so intense you slam your first into your palm in agreement. They’ve damn well convinced you with their emotion and intensity. And then the interludes feel like the moment they’ve got to stop the speech because they’re having mic problems.

Every time they step back from the interludes though, Petrol Girls hit hard. “The Sound,” “Big Mouth,” and “Monstrous,” all follow these interludes and all are among the highest points on Cut & Stitch, “Rootless” is surely the most pensive track to be found here, and these songs contain some of the most intense and intelligent lyrics, some of the most powerful messages relayed in a mass of controlled mayhem, of shouting intensity.

“No Love For A Nation” is more melodic, with more of a classic sing-along chorus, though a philosophical wondering about the “notion of nation”. “Skye” is a beautiful ode to a deceased pet, that will bring a tear to all animal-lovers’ eye, with a large spoken word section in the middle. “Burn” jumps between calm passages and the shouting, the pleading, the desire to be welcoming of outsiders, with the brilliant imagery contained in lines like “Lets make longer tables rather than building up / More walls.” “Talk in Tongues” approaches an understanding of feminism through a male perspective.

Petrol Girls have messages to spread and spread them they will, unlistening ears be damned. Whether screamed or sung, the impact is felt. Some hardcore records all you need to do is listen to the music to get the full wave of emotion, with clichéd lyrics that may or may not add much value. But with Petrol Girls, the hit comes in the combination of the music and the lyrics. This is a record you need to spin while reading along. The messages are too important to miss.

On American shores you’re best bet is probably to go digital to avoid exorbitant shipping rates. And you know Trump would want to tariff the shit out of this record if he could. So support Petrol Girls through their Bandcamp, here: