Friday, July 22, 2022

Doll Riot Are Angry, But There Is A Joy To That Rage

The pandemic was a tough time for everyone, where fear and confusion gave way to anger and frustration as the weeks turned to into months. Many people simply bottled up the exasperation of their futile situation and waited to resume their lives, but that’s not what the four teenagers that makeup Doll Riot did. 

With a backdrop of racial tension, Trump’s America and the recent but certain-to-be catastrophic overturning of Roe vs Wade, Doll Riot decided to channel their anger and confusion into one of the most exciting punk acts in years. Made up of Elena Olszak on vocals, Ella Sauer on guitar, London Kraus on bass and Lillee Gillum on drums, these four girls from San Diego take no prisoners on their self-titled EP. 

Opening with a crooner’s bass and swaying guitar that harks back to 50s’ Elvis, ‘300 Years’ is both a heated yet defiant anthem for the fight females that have to live every day of their lives in what is still, and always has been, an imperfect society. “Scary little girl, what have you done? / They’ll call her a heathen, but she’ll refuse to run” sings Olszak in a sarcastic swooning manner. It’s futile for Doll Riot anyway, as they acknowledge the protagonist is “Damned if she does and Damned if she don’t” as drums and guitar finally relay the anger of the track in a typically West Coast pop-punk fashion. 

‘Paresthesia’ is what you may refer to as pins and needles – the tingling sensation that to most, is little more than a mild irritation. Doll Riot, however, are able to do what all great punk bands do and turn a minor inconvenience into a snarling and hate-fuelled blast of witty, lyrical vocals and lambastic instrumentation. The 2-minute track is more metal than punk, reminiscent of their West Coast counterparts Queens of the Stone Age, yet it allows the girls to continue on their crusade of attitude that makes their EP irresistible. 

Closer ‘Fuck You’ is relatable to any eighteen-year-old fast approaching the end of their forced educational lives. However, it's not just the stereotypical grievances of being an outsider in education systems that often idolise the conformists that is getting Olszak and her bandmates down. “I’m done with you telling me to lighten up / In a world that oppresses my rights, I’m done!” proclaims the singer over a cacophony of distortion. This track isn’t just about feeling like an outcast, it’s genuine and real exasperation about a system that expects women to take their lot and be happy about it. Doll Riot, as they shouldn’t, aren’t going to accept that. 

It's a sad indictment of the world today that four teenagers who should be outwardly looking forward to the bright future they undoubtedly have in music, must sing of their desperation in a world that seems to be stepping on their necks harder with every passing day. It can be a hard listen at times, knowing the emotions that many must be going through at this time, especially in the U.S, but in a strange way there is a joy to their defiance and long may it continue. 


James Ogden 

Image: ‘Doll Riot’ Official EP Cover 

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