In time, every solvable equation gets addressed, and if Fermat’s Last Theorem can be proved satisfactorily, so can the question as to, “Could the White Stripes be as retro-revolutionary if Jack were the drummer and Meg the singer?” Or, in other words, can Zeppelin-esque cock rock be successfully reconstituted as clit rock?
Although channeling strutting, sexy, ham-handed blues riffs through an ovarian perspective is not a new concept in rock’n’roll – c.f. Janis Joplin, the Runaways, Royal Trux – it has certainly received a propulsive jolt in the past couple years owing to the success of the White Stripes and Bikini Kill’s myriad children. New York City’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the current darlings of the estrogen-assertion circuit, but it’s London’s the Kills who hone the perfect balls-out (ovaries-in?) strut.
Fronted by Florida ex-pat VV on guitar and vocals, and ably backed by a man named Hotel on drums and backing vocals, the band’s Black Rooster EP combines the female/male vocal tension of X with a saucy sneer that is far earthier than anything Exene Cervenka ever let fly. Opener “Cat Claw” features the kind of come-hither refrain – “You got it / I want it” – that melts black-haired boys’ hearts. Even “Dropout Boogie”‘s rehashing of a quintessential Kinks riff seems less like plagiarism and more like sublimation – VV declaring that, yes, she’s really got you now.
Karen O doesn’t quite have the simple throaty delivery of VV, and her Yeah Yeah Yeahs don’t break out the trashy crunch with nearly the same casualness as the Kills. That being said, they cover a lot more sonic territory, from the Yes-meets-Bjork-meets-Chrome Cranks hysteria of the title track, to “Graveyard”‘s reading the writing on the Jimmy Page, to “Pin Remix”‘s unabashed, quintessentially NYC weird-noise-wankery. Although none of the cuts on Machine have the aggressive punch of the self-titled’s “Bang” (“As a fuck son, you sucked / the bigger, the better”), they show that the band won’t sit satisfied with being the be-all and end-all of clit rock.
Nor should they, because the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are decidedly not the solution to the style. That honor may very well belong to the Kills.
[DJ Fatkid has fulfilled his quota of gonad references.]