Anti-misogynist, anti-capitalist and unapologetic
One of the main criticisms of modern feminism—often referred to as “fourth-wave” or “pop culture feminism”—is that it relies on the use of buzzwords and trendy slogans that, instead of gaining power with each post, tend to lose their meaning. “All bodies are beautiful” reinforces the superficial value of body size; “girl bosses” uphold the same immoral laws and policies that men created and modern makeup ads often equate confidence with consumerism. But feminism doesn’t necessarily mean buying products, taking over a public office or filling typically male positions. It’s about standing up for yourself without being questioned or pressured to apologize—something that punk band Amyl and the Sniffers displays in their latest album, Comfort to Me.
When first reading through the seemingly quirky and somewhat grotesque track titles, the album seems as if it would be akin to the whimsical sound of Scissor Sisters. Though even the cover art suggests playfulness, the lyrics present a fearless redemption of the self. The Melbourne-based band has released this album two years after their first and self-titled album, which, though equally dynamic, was more romantic than their latest piece.
“Security,” for example, transitions from the former album by balancing romance with rebellion. As lead singer Amy Taylor yells about “not looking for trouble, looking for love” with a charming Australian twang, she captures the urgency that comes with breaking into hearts rather than breaking them. In “No More Tears,” people see how recovery from heartbreak often requires affirmations of strength and acceptance of vulnerability—regardless of how much they seem to contradict each other.
Tracks such as “Maggot,” on the other hand, take revenge on ex-lovers by empowering the self: through a driving bass and straightforward, “I am who I am, and I said what I said,” the band takes pride in moving forward without regrets. This theme continues in “Laughing,” which explores the nuances of womanhood, primarily how appearance does not determine identity.
The electrifying “Choices,” as the title suggests, is about having autonomy. The band never fails to get straight to the point: the song opens with, well, “I can make my own choices.” “Don’t Fence Me In” continues by highlighting the beauty of being able to explore the world as one wishes, without needing to conform to one specific group permanently. These tracks are especially salient now, as laws about women’s autonomy are up for debate. Although these songs don’t explicitly mention such issues, they emphasize the power of having control over your body and actions.
But after growing up with constant patronizing comments and leering glances, it’s easy to grow numb to objectification. The nihilistic “Capital” rants about the role of women and women’s bodies in modern culture and questions the merit of politics when the people in charge disrespect women in the everyday. It questions what comfort means and how to find it, and if comfort means sacrificing self-respect. This song—and the album as a whole—is anti-misogynist, anti-capitalist and unapologetic. The essence of feminism, and not coincidentally, is also the essence of punk.