The Menstrual Cramps are one of the bands who are heavily involved in the DIY indie scene. Their music is strictly riot grrrl influenced by the likes of Bikini Kill, while lyrically they call out both creepy men and the Tories. Last year, they released their debut album, ‘We’re not Ovaryacting’. The album was strong, showing the band’s capability or strong songwriting, with tracks like ‘Another Sesh’, ‘Cull the Tories’ and ‘Frack Off’ providing lyrics that were relatable and hit the listener hard. But if there was one criticism of ‘We’re not Ovaryacting’, it is that the production was very raw, and let some of the songs down.
The band released their comeback album, ‘Free Bleedin’ earlier this year. The production has improved but still brings out both the anger and melodic songwriting even more. There’s plenty of raucous energy and you could tell the band had a lot of fun recording, and of course, the witty lyrics still remain.
The record starts with a bang. ‘Boycott the Lot’ is a mesh of punky hard guitars, with singer Emilia furiously listing companies to boycott, including Starbucks (“They don’t pay their taxes”), The Sun (“They don’t need no explanation”) and Harrods (They’re selling real fur”). This shows that they have got a lot to say, but the tempo change in the middle catches you off guard with a bouncy riff that oozes melody. We’re two minutes into the album and the listener can feel the excitement. ‘The Smash’ is a ranger, with a riot-grrrl riff that makes you want to punch a wall. The anger is there in the chorus: “It’s time we took back the floor, kick the Tories out the door”. This is the first time we hear the vocal interplay between Emilia and guitarist Cooper Rose. It’s infectious, and in my opinion is the best thing about the band. We saw glimpses of it on ‘We’re Not Ovaryacting’, but on this track and ‘Neo-Nazi’ a track about the unfortunate resurgence of the alt-right, it’s brought to the fore and sounds fucking massive: “Alt right, alt right always wanna start a fight”. It’s a chorus that’s full of passion and it’s going to get stuck right in your head.
The songwriting across this album has improved massively, there are so many catchy choruses, including ‘Mutual Masturbation’ and ‘Idols.’ The latter is a list of a lot of people who are considered as legends, but delves into their personal lives, rightly scrutinizing people like Harvey Weinstein and Michael Jackson for their wrongdoings. It is one of the most captivating songs on the record because it is thought-provoking. Although it could come off to some people as preachy, it is a firm reminder that you shouldn’t look up to your heroes.
The final track on the album is a reworking of ‘My Bush is None of Ur Business’ but simply titled ‘Bush’. It is much faster than the original version and features more vocal interplay. Give this version a few listens, and you can see how tighter the band have become.
‘Free Bleedin’ is as aggressive as it is fun, showing that The Menstrual Cramps is a force to be reckoned with. It is a mix of punk rock and riot grrrl, each song is captivating, inspiring and compelling, with choruses such as the one in ‘Neo-Nazi’ guaranteed to get into your head fast.
Words by Ermis Madikopoulos