American Bandstand Meets Riot Grrrl in the Third Wave
The Regrettes know what they want, and they know what we want too. On the new album, Feel Your Feelings, Fool!, nearly every song is a piece of a driving feminist manifesto. The group’s name is an obvious sardonic reference to the girl groups popular in the 1960s, and their music, when it diverts briefly from the rollicking, feel-good, girl punk sound, pays homage to this aesthetic while critiquing the social shortcomings of the era and of today, as they persist.
Lead single “A Real Live Human Girl” features bubbly, feminine backing vocals behind an unapologetic anthem of female empowerment. Body imagery persists on the album, as these young artists use their clearly burgeoning ideologies to navigate young womanhood and undermine norms about sex, gender and art. Skin is called pale, stretched, pimpled and thick, and the suggestion of coerced change is met with punkish disdain, suggesting that these textbook cool teens have no time for the world’s projections. Lydia Night, lead singer, casts herself as the reviled feminist, crazy, lesbian, razor-hating character in the irreverent “Ladylike (WHATTA BITCH).” Subtle queering of the classic mean-girl, love-to-hate narrative occurs through a stealthy pronoun switch in “Picture Perfect.”
At multiple points, Night simply lists off things: imperfections in her body (about which your opinions are not welcome) and expectations aligned with her gender that her and the Regrettes’ success as punk rock artists thoroughly ignore. The album is a pointed but danceable collection of stories in the vein of the Dollyrots, and a declaration of self-love and intrinsic worth, backed up by empirically impressive musicianship and lyricism. A video for “Hey Now” features the band as headliners on “The Dick Dickie Show” in fictional 1962, sporting teased wigs and tea-length skirts, side-eyeing the sleazy show host and declaring desire and inclusion as acts of subversion. The Regrettes turn the mundane heartbreaks and lessons of adolescence into something we all best care about, because they’re not going away anytime soon.