Huggy Bear - Weaponry Listens To Love (Cover Artwork)

Huggy Bear

Weaponry Listens To Love (1994)

Kill Rock Stars

Ok friends, brace yourself – ‘Weaponry Listens To Love' is one of my all-time favorite records and get this, it's not street punk. Ohhhhh (sarcasm for the know-it-alls around here). Rather, this, the only proper full-length from Huggy Bear, is raw, amateurish, disjointed, often dissonant and unmelodic noise-punk in the vein of Bikini Kill, Pussy Galore, Frumpies, Free Kitten (members of Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Pavement, and Boredoms), and Deep Lust. All right, all right, for those of you who are still with me upon reading that first reference I commend you. Yes, this band is the quintessential British riot grrrl band and I came across this act when I was in my own riot grrrl phase, which has since passed, yet my love for this LP has not – mostly because of the lack of slick production, the utter shoddiness of the finished product (it sounds like it was recorded in a basement on a 4-track), and the lack of time signatures, the manic sense of immediacy. That's initially what lured me into the whole movement. In the early ‘90s, this was new to me…and I liked it. I still have a penchant for the murky, sludgy sound, but that's enough about that.

Formed in 1991, Huggy Bear released this album in 1994 and disbanded shortly thereafter. During the band's brief lifetime, they played gigs with Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth, and Pavement. Comprised of both male and female members, their rallying cry was "Boy girl revolution now!" Like other bands in the genre/movement, the politics are at the forefront while the music is secondary, as witnessed by their messy instrumentation (though it's complex at the same time – I'd like to see someone try to transcribe this album) and in their messages and political manifestos, a sample of which is featured in the liner notes.

The bulk of the vocals are male, but some songs primarily feature female vocals like the rape/sexual violence commentary "Facedown" and "16 & Suicide". Usually there is great dueling going on with the mixed vocals as well, as on the superb "For Insecure Offenders". The band's messages of equality are spewed through intense, sometimes yelled, but always impassioned vocals that relay confrontational lyrics against established gender roles, standard sexual orientation beliefs, image/appearance, and the like. Don't ask me to decipher all the lyrics on ‘Weaponry', though: many are hard to interpret and the meanings elusive. However, their power and urgency is never questioned. Take, for instance, the rebellious lines from "Local Arrogance": "Never accept it of me/To blend with their dead theory/For a valiant vocabulary I know there is this need," and the downright frightening "Facedown", with alternating vulnerable/disgusted female vocals spouting out lines like "Can't say I like it now, it's making me sick/Fiction to fiction turns to agony quick/When I said push, I didn't mean kill me/When I said push I didn't mean break my back."

Whereas many people seem to prefer the band's collection of early material released in 1993 (I believe) entitled ‘Taking The Rough With The Smooch' and consider ‘Weaponry' somewhat of a letdown, there's just something about this record I simply cannot shake. Best songs (although it's mighty hard…) are the opener "Immature Adolescence", "Fuck Yr Heart", "On the Wolves' Tip", "Erotic Bleeding", and "For Insecure Offenders", but they're really all noteworthy. Basically, if you're one of the guys who finds pleasure in putting me down because I'm a female, fuck off. Just don't bother. For those who could care less about the political side and don't pay attention to lyrics, but do like great low-fi indie/punk you might actually enjoy this…I know I'm going to get shit for this, but I think it's an excellent album and hopefully some of you who haven't heard of Huggy Bear will look into it.