Progressivism never sounded so good
The Coathangers are back with The Devil You Know, a cathartic garage rock record that is nothing short of a glorious gut-punch to the establishment. The Atlanta all-female power trio’s music is as unapologetic as ever in their sixth studio album which takes the listener on an enjoyably turbulent ride through today’s most prominent issues.
The album’s seventh track, “F the NRA,” features, amidst the crunchy power chords and hard-edged drums, compelling lyrics such as “Yeah you’re talking freedom, yeah you’re talking rights, while you keep your eye on your bank accounts” and then, of course, the anthemic chorus which bears the title of the song explicitly. In “Hey Buddy,” Meredith Franco (Minnie Coathanger) lures you with a slithering bass line into a track whose verses, sung by Stephanie Luke (Rusty Coathanger), are relevant to the current political climate and showcase the band’s dynamic style.
The music across the record is a perfect blend of indie undertones and choruses reminiscent of the brilliance of the Riot Grrrl movement of the early ‘90s. Songs like “Stasher” and “Last Call” feature the unyielding energy of bands like Bratmobile and Huggy Bear while the opening track “Bimbo” is pure light-hearted fun that explodes into fuzz riffs and killer drum fills. The endeavor was long in the works as the group took a significant part of 2018 off and now returns with a perspective that is a blend of the old and the new.
In the album’s final track, “Lithium,” guitarist Julia Kugel-Montoya (Crook Kid Coathanger) sings a disturbing ode to the chemical element which is widely used today to treat major depressive disorders. Perhaps this offbeat final track, and the album collectively, is a reminder to the progressive movements of today’s youth—that forge ahead with fierce strength and then dwindle in depressive states—to pick themselves up and continue to fight the good fight.
The Coathangers have succeeded in creating an album that musically preserves their untamed spirit while showing a new side of themselves to the world. Overall, The Devil You Know contains fantastic music and important messages.