Punk’s Bold Female Voice
While some tire of the “woman question,” the Austin based band A Giant Dog relishes in it. Lead by singer Sabrina Ellis, this newest release is brimming with femininity and not with the femininity that is defined by men, but by the complicated and tenacious women who inhabit it. Toy is bold and overtly feminine and with their exploration of sounds outside the punk realm, A Giant Dog ends up with a record that is loud, aggressive and clever.
The album begins with the harmony and unusually pop-filled track “Get Away.” With lyrics like, “Should’ve been a model/Honey can I give it all back to you” and cheerful sounding keyboards nestled under fuzzy guitar, the listener forgets that they are listening to a punk band. After the happy “Get Away,” the record explodes into sound with “Fake Plastic Trees,” but the band doesn’t really get going until the third song “Bendover.” A track that is brimming with silly, but fiery harmonizing from lead singer Ellis and guitarist Andrew Cashen and aggressive guitar, it seems impossible for the band to fit in all they are doing instrumentally and vocally into three minutes. “Tongue Tied,” “Hero for the Weekend” and “Making Movies” are a triple dose of punk rock femininity dripping with female imagery, drug abuse and power.
“Roller Coaster” is a languid end to a raucous record. Don’t let the repetitive guitar and the vintage sounding vocals of Ellis fool you, this track is filled with anger-ridden lyrics like “And if you ever go I’ll find somebody new/But darling what they don’t know is that I’ll think of you, I’ll think you/And when I leave I know you’ll fuck my friend/I know you’ll fuck my friend,” revealing, if only for a minute, a vulnerability that was masked for most of the record only to be lightly touched upon just as it closes.
At the end of Toy, some listeners may be intimated by the violence or grotesqueness of the lyrics and imagery, but there is no arguing that Ellis is helping to redefine the representation of femininity. On this record, there are no put upon women, only women who are self-assertive, fierce and who fearlessly put out a kick ass album.