'Love Is Dead and We Killed Her'- Doll Skin / Turn It Up Louder
There’s a lot to be angry about in this day and age, especially navigating life as a female in a world that seems determined to quash your voice and silence your protests. And no band knows these frustrations better than Doll Skin. The Arizonan quartet have been letting loose their aggravation at the injustices dealt to them and theirs on both a personal and global scale, and harnessing that raw, unfiltered fury into visceral punk rock tracks that have seared themselves onto the minds and hearts of those who have been brought into their fold. With a steadily growing legion of fans behind them, - bolstered by their appearances on 2018’s Warped Tour and their UK run with horror-punks Creeper last summer – to say that the band’s newest full-length, ‘Love Is Dead and We Killed Her’, has been hotly anticipated is a wild understatement! Packed full of malevolently acidic lyrics and pounding drums, the album itself is a guaranteed favourite for the disenfranchised young woman looking for songs that empower as much as they incite an unabashed desire for anarchy.
Opening with a richly wallowing melody, ‘Don’t Cross My Path’ boasts a sumptuous depth that almost masks the ominous venom dripping from the lyrics. Peppered with gravelly screams, every line is packed with acidic bite, as the fabulously fuzzy guitars pound away through the shout-along choruses that any riot gurl era band would be proud of! While the hook into each chorus could be a touch more volumous, this track doesn’t require a breakneck pace to make it powerfully resonant. Doll Skin mean business!
For much of this record, however, the overall atmosphere enveloping each track is a shade lighter than one might have expected. The most recent single, ‘Empty House’ is undoubtedly the lighter of the two released so far, full of spiralling guitar noodles and verses that are both undulating and uplifted. The soaring vocals in the chorus are testament to the raw talent this band possesses, while the whole track tingles with a fluidity that makes refusing to bop along a very difficult feat indeed! Softer still is ‘Ink Stains’. Reverberating guitars and cantering drums elevate the melody from below, yet that deeper, rootsier layer of grit and fire is missing, and sadly it shows. A cluster of scything guitars come piling in in the bridge to fill out the melody, however it all drops away again far too soon for the arrival of the final chorus. Title track ‘Love Is Dead and We Killed Her’ brings with it almost ironically funky rhythms, with lyrics drawn from unadulterated fury, yet that are lain over an undeniably danceable melody, such that you can let yourself be swept along in the rousing pop rock melodies and remain relatively unaffected by the deeper layer of rising, unctuous rage that froths and bubbles beneath the surface. However, while this album boasts many tracks that are not outwardly forceful or abrasive, they don’t always need to be, as is the case with the delight that is ‘Nasty Man’. Funky guitar notes overture lyrics brimming with poised disdain and pointed irony, as the guitars tinkle ominously in the background, mocking in themselves. The scorching lyricism is unapologetically candid, and the raw power that is barely contained beneath the surface is blended with the pain and shame that comes with the events that inspired it: it is as touchingly bittersweet as it is unashamedly barbed. A true highlight of this record’s ethos, and the magnitude of its overriding message.
If Doll Skin were blending their rage in with palatable, smooth melodies before, the last shreds of that containment fall away completely with the momentous arrival of the record’s lead single ‘Mark My Words’. A gritty nugget of a track with a stinging lick to its fringes, the low rumbling of the bass is slowly-approaching thunder; the drums pound like bursting firecrackers; while each chorus is vividly defiant: an unapologetic feminist anthem, guaranteed to get fists waving and spark revolutions in disillusioned hearts! Pummelling drums pierce the fabric of ‘When They Show Their Teeth’ with an injection of virility, over which the towering vocals glide almost effortlessly. Packed full of relentless energy, occasionally rearing chorus of ‘na na na’s are mimicked by the similarly unbridled guitar riff in the bridge. A dalliance of drums hails the opening of ‘Outta My Mind’, as the melody bounds and frolicks like a barely-containable puppy! The gang vocals in the infectiously buoyant chorus will undoubtedly be a hit, before the bridge trickles with the promise of an incoming tidal wave, which is delivered in spades with a breakdown worthy of being attributed to the shadowy post-hardcore underworld. Similarly, ‘Your Idols Are Dying’ again brings that delightfully coarse tone in its snarling bassline that grumbles away under a flurry of guitars, while the vigour in the melody is guaranteed to get mosh pits swept up into a flurry, as the bridge collapses into a wonderfully sneering breakdown. Electric stuff!
When applied with a delicate hand, however, Doll Skin’s vulnerable side can be just as entrancing. Soaring vocals float over an effervescent melody on ‘No Fear’: a satiable slice of pop rock pumped full of vitality and hopefulness. With lyrics drawn from the ebbing and flowing journey of a youth cut adrift from the rest of the world, who is left to shoulder the responsibility of pulling together the pieces to rebuild a solid foundation on which to forge a life, this track will undoubtedly be emotive for those who can empathise with such a deeply personal voyage. Closer ‘Homesick’ enters the fray, bringing a melancholier tone in tow. Like a slowly rising wave that builds and froths, the track reaches its lowest ebb before crashing just at the point of breaking into a pulsating wall of chugging guitars. While some of that zest is lost by the lead guitar line being buried deep behind the chugging bassline, lyrically it is tangibly bittersweet, and the swooping hook into the final chorus finally sates the desire for a gut-wrenching, lighter-waving finale.
Lyrically, this album is utterly glorious. Each line is forged from the most visceral of human emotions: touching candour traversing into white-hot rage with apparent ease. While several of the tracks may not be as big and rugged as die-hard punk fans might have been hoping for, there is still dagger-sharp intent running like a vein across the entire body of work that makes it just as dangerous, if a touch less brash. This is infectious, irrepressibly fun, yet quietly deadly music- Doll Skin are the perfect voices for angry, passionate young women the world over.
'Love Is Dead and We Killed Her' is out on June 28th via Hopeless Records.
Check out the video for the album's lead single, 'Mark My Words', below:
Doll Skin are currently touring the USA with New Found Glory, and will be returning to the UK and Europe in support of Trash Boat this October- dates can be found below and tickets are available here: