The Poor Choices – [Album]

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Now about eighteen years after bands like Green Day, NOFX and Rancid broke through into the mainstream, punk rock has changed in some most peculiar ways. After the great renaissance happened in 1994, it didn't take long for other young, hopeful bands to formalize punk rock (see the results in Blink 182 and all of the side projects from that band, Sum 41, MxPx, Simple Plan and We The Kings, and that's just for starters – there are more) and turn it into a three-chord playground where the most common lyrical subjects were girls. This kind of formulaic repetition went on for so long that, while there were gleeming moments of greatness still to be found in punk (Roger Miret's work with The Disasters was phenomenal, OFF is doing some pretty great work, and those are only a couple of examples), a lot of the stuff which got popular forgot the street-life (if they'd ever known it at all) and forgot how good some dirt, desperation and hunger can be in punk.

The mainstream bands may have forgotten how things used to be, but some of the darker corners of the underground didn't – The Poor Choices' new album (perfectly entitled Girl Crimes) is proof of that.

Right from the beginning of “10 To Life,” The Poor Choices sound a charge on Girl Crimes which is about as lean, mean, scruffy and unclean as one could hope for from a bunch of bratty girls with nothing to lose. In saying that, readers already know that the obvious comparison will be to Joan Jett and that's valid enough, but equally so would be L7 as singer Bobbi Belknap grunts and growls her way through an ugly scene of social unrest (talk of airplanes and metal detectors, “Janey throwing darts off the Eiffel Tower” and other similar lyrical imagery are the standard here) which is pretty pale and formulaic in its own right too, but it's exciting because it's a different formula – one which hasn't been sorely overused in the last fifteen years.

Those hints of “something different” continue to come into better focus and build in energy as “I Wanna Be Loved” (a well-placed and woefully under-appreciated Johnny Thunders cover), “Who's Laughing Now,” “Boobi Fuck Face” and “Rollergirl” rock like beasts and serve as a reminder to listeners that the best punk came out of squalor (not for nothing was the punk mecca in New York – CBGBs – located in The Bowery) and not the suburbs. The guitars spewed out by Rocky Mann and Belknap are dayglo bright and perfectly slovenly while the rhythm section of Trish Maxwell and Dana Dempster if as hard as the wood that the average junkie's skin begins to resemble after a while.

For some listeners, this kind of unclean re-emergence of the true spirit of punk will be abominable (the new breed like their pop tarts), but others will rejoice and see it for the perfect antidote to the “sanitized for your protection” brand of punk foisted on impressionable minds that it is. The Poor Choices embody the spirit of un-calculated danger, destruction and chaos from which punk rock was borne, and it's really, really good to hear. Here's hoping that these girls are able to keep it up and throw a few more monkey wrenches like Girl Crimes into the mainstream punk rock machine.



Girl Crimes is out now. To listen, go to The Poor Choices' bandcamp page, and contact the band at to purchase.

Comments are closed.