The Barb Wire Dolls are a band I’ve heard a lot about (mainly from one of our photographers, Gary), but very little by. Given that Gary went out of his way to review their last release, and several live shows, I felt I owed it to him to check the band out myself. Along came the opportunity in a Rub My Mind-shaped package.
The album’s been out for a couple of weeks now, and they were already playing tracks off it live in May when Gary last caught them, but it was all new to me as I pressed play and was greeted by the thoroughly accurately-titled (if you don’t believe Fox News) “Back in the U.S.S.A.”. This is a simple track with an ongoing, pumping rhythm and all the trappings of a song that’s designed to be easy to sing along to with it’s “Woah-ah-oh-oh” refrain.
I confess I was expecting something a little more hard-hitting and rocky for the first track, but as I progressed through the album I realised that the Barb Wire Dolls have a lot more influences than just middle of the road rock. “If I Fall” has a bassline that could have come right out of a Green Day track and it’s bouncy as a balloon full of rubber balls as a result. “Call Me” drips Nirvana-era grunge. “We Are Champions” is a full on angry punker. “Fade Away” is haunting, trippy and bluesy. “Fire To Burn” would breach fire regulations in small venues due to the lighters being held in the air (if people didn’t use mobile phones instead these days).
At first glance, and listen, it seems like an excessively eclectic mix. There’s too much variety here, and the Barb Wire Dolls become hard to pin down. But play the album through a couple of times and it quickly becomes apparent that all of these songs are the Barb Wire Dolls. They don’t want to be pinned down, and they don’t need to be. Every track is recogniseable as a Barb Wire Dolls number – they just happen to be multi-faceted.
As a result of the variety there are tracks I like much more than others, and a couple that I just can’t get into. Such is the nature of spreading yourself widely genre-wise. However, the one thing it ensures is the album is not boring. It’s also ideal in today’s track-rather-than-album focussed society with its Spotifys and playlists. Here we have a couple of tracks for your “I’m feeling down and want to bubble into a glass of wine” list, some for your “Monday and pissed off” one, “Fade Away” is for when you’re just wanting to lie back and zone out…
Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. And these girls are sat on a cinnamon mine.
Header photo by Gary Cooper.