I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This generation needs more female pop-punk bands and when I say this, I don’t mean we need more Paramore or Against the Current rip offs.
No, what I bring to you this time is none other than ‘Don’t Open Love Letters’ or ‘DOLL’ for short. The female pop punk duo consists of Simone Armstrong and Victoria ‘Toria’ Nathanson and they have just released their new single ‘Dress Code’ which I genuinely believe is set to blow up like my jean size during the Christmas period.
If I was judging by the first thirty seconds of the song, I would place it In an empowering female fronted coming of age film set in the late nineties with an opening cut scene with possibly a few people skating or a fun getaway scene that evidently sets the tone of the film.
The song opens with some retro sounding high pitched synths that are quickly met with progressive guitar riffs and a matching drumbeat. From the get-go you can tell the energy is being brought hard.
The chorus is what grabs me the most. “We make our own fu**ing dress code”. The venom during the delivery met with the intensity of the guitar blends perfectly and gets you hyped for the rest of the musical journey.
The vocals are mixed with a generic reverb effect to sound harsher and edgier than normal pop-punk vocals. When I say generic, I’m using it to coincide with the high levels of production on the song rather than the song sounding cliché. For a second song the girls have created something that could easily be sold, marketed and mass produced with little criticism due to how professional it sounds.
You can listen to the song here:
Doll were nice enough to spare some time to have a chat with me so I could get deeper into this review and leave no stone unturned.
Image: Gary Lambert (@glamgigpics)
My first question was how the band came to be. Humbly, Simone said:
“Somebody told me I should get Toria to do backing vocals at one of my gigs and at first rehearsal it was like, yeah let’s just sing together all the time this vibe is perfect”.
The conversation flowed and she then told me a bit more about the song writing process.
“We had just finished recording ‘Fake’ and the producer showed us this track that he just had lying around for months and it was called ‘Dress code’ for some random reason but then we heard the song and the name together and it just inspired us to write this angry female empowerment song about knocking down expectations… It honestly just wrote itself”.
My favourite line throughout the whole song has got to be “Stick a needle through my eyeball I just wanna be your idol”. So raw yet provocative. Toria said:
“I wrote that line because I felt it accurately describes my need to be someone for people to look up to and also, I love using gory imagery in songs, I can’t write a song without it”.
There was also a ‘winking face’ emoji but I thought it’d be best to leave that out… For professional reasons.
Overall, I’d give the song an 8/10. There wasn’t much I could fault. I personally would have liked to hear some more vocal layers blended into the course or the bridge and maybe a few an extended power note leading into the breakdown but again, that’s a personal preference.
Although the new year has just begun, the girls have no plans of slowing down, anytime soon. They’re itching to get back into the studio and may even have a slot performing at one of their favourite summer festivals. They haven’t told me which festival yet, which is probably a good thing as I can’t keep my mouth shut.
Stay tuned for more catchy retro feminist ballads and watch this space!
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