Toxic masculinity’s presence in music
The recently established band Crickets wrote a new album centered around toxic masculinity. The members of the band feature JD Samson of Le Tigre and Men, Micheal O’Neill also from Men and Roddy Bottum of Faith No More and Imperial Teen. The previous bands that all three Crickets members are a part of are all classified as rock bands, and their backgrounds show in the music they have produced in their new album.
All tracks on the album Crickets follow a similar idea that is styled in different ways and with lyrics that all tell a different story. Many of the songs on the album, all having the classification of rock and in some ways punk, begin with a single beat that is layered with guitar riffs, keyboard elements or percussive sounds created with hands. “Drilled Two Holes” begins with a simple clapping beat, then an electronic beat with the lyrics following suit, the entire picture coming together with more electronic riffs and audio created by a synth. Through the many keyboard appearances in each track on the album, Bottum uses his experience from Faith No More.
Le Tigre was known for being a very political band, and this element is brought into the album through its center around toxic masculinity. The songs that most obviously address this theme all express the idea that toxic masculinity masks creativity and hinders the freedom that comes with writing music. Through each track, Crickets aims to write without the burden of toxic masculinity that is present within the songwriting process.
“Intentionally Passive” describes someone who goes with the flow because they feel they have no other choice, alluding to those that men have to push down, for society pushes men to combat their feelings, emotion is seen as feminine. “Stache,” short for mustache, describes in a very metaphorical way the weight that comes with silence. The masculinity that one is expected to show is a weight on one’s life, the sense of self hidden behind a strong facade, the silence exhausting. “Elastic” talks about overcoming that toxicity, being able to move on and become stronger after the hurt that came from it. “Bikelane” concerns the influence that music has on those that listen to it. The lyrics discuss that music groups create something that lands in the hands of the people where it remains to be cherished and individually interpreted, and perhaps, that toxic masculinity in the studio should be diminished so that music contains no more of it to spread.
Repetition of beats and lyrics, a prominent theme of the album, is most visible in the tracks “Never” and “Can’t Do It.” These tracks discuss love and the challenges that come with it. “Never” seems to tell a story of a man who pushes away a woman that wishes to come back to him, another example of toxic masculinity and how the pernicious pride that comes with it damages what could have been wonderful.
Crickets brings up an issue in the music industry that is not much of a hot topic, but something that should be considered, for it may prevent wonderful expression from taking place in music. The band has created an album (Crickets) that can educate on the topic and creates a space where the pressures and detriments of toxic masculinity can be looked at and overcome.