Single Review – Pussy Riot by Police State

It’s time to get your neon coloured balaclava out of the sock drawer because Pussy Riot are back. With lines like; ‘Shut the borders burn the others sons and daughters and the mothers,’ and ‘take my body anybody I’m your trophy make my nose bleed now you own me,’ you know exactly where you are with Pussy Riot’s new single ‘Police State’. Continuing to fearlessly portray the 21st century in the kind of punk-pop tracks that ignite an instant passion by mixing hard-hitting images with pop chord sequences Pussy Riot maintain their empowering politically charged punk stance, unafraid to get their hands dirty in the fight to raise the voices of those that the often pompous and outdated continue to attempt to oppress.

Hayley Miller

EP Review – Pussy Riot – xxx

Pussy Riot – xxx Review

Pussy Riot have returned with new EP, ‘xxx’. Normally a collaborative group, this release could be considered a solo effort from one of Pussy Riot’s three founding members, Nadya Tolokonnikova. Using pop music as a vehicle for her inflammatory, feminist views has created something that is both melodic and important listening.

The three song EP opens with post-Trump anthem ‘Make America Great Again’- perhaps one of the most direct musical attacks on Trump we’ve heard yet. This track denounces the President-elect and his treatment of women and minorities, while actively supporting the BLM movement by urging Americans to “stop killing black children”. In addressing these issues, this song questions its own title by denying the notion that America ever was “great”, and suggesting that the only way in which greatness could be achieved is by people standing up, taking action and fighting against Trump and his views.

This is followed by the contrastingly upbeat ‘Straight Outta Vagina’, an ode to the female anatomy which features lyrics such as “don’t play stupid, don’t play dumb, vagina’s where you’re really from” and is accompanied by a video celebrating women and vaginas of all shapes and sizes. An obvious play on the N.W.A. track, this track features two guest verses from rappers Desi Mo and Leikali47 that further celebrate the role of women in art, popular culture and the everyday lives of everyone- a role that is often forgotten or overlooked. The track also references the time Pussy Riot spent imprisoned, with the lyric ‘if your vagina lands itself in prison, then the world is gonna listen’ offering a reminder of the reason Pussy Riot are so influential, and of the sacrifices they made for their freedom of speech. This is a song to inspire women, and to remind everyone that, without women, they wouldn’t be here. While the focus on the sexual organs of women over the women themselves may be seen as objectifying by some, the message is clear- women are a force to be reckoned with.

The EP closes with ‘Organs’, a potent Russian-language track that can be translated via the YouTube closed captions feature. ‘Organs’ speaks on the obstacles faced by women, voices the outrage felt over the power governing bodies have over women’s own bodies and the imprisonment of innocent people under Putin’s regime. A direct, unsubtle criticism of the system responsible for their imprisonment, Pussy Riot’s ‘Organs’ is as powerful as it is moving. Unlike the rest of the EP, the tone of this track is dark, representing the oppression felt by Russian people and urging them to take action against their oppressors.

It’s clear that Pussy Riot have a lot to say, and ‘xxx’ gets these views across perfectly. While the EP has an almost novelty feel in places on the first listen, with time it becomes clear that the use of catchy pop melodies merely acts as a device to get people listening to what they have to say. It’s an angry, defiant collection of songs that manage to tackle a wide range of issues in a surprisingly short amount of time. Pussy Riot make pop music with a message, and that message can be heard loud and clear on ‘xxx’.

Katie Hayes

Single Review – Regina Spektor – Black and White 

Moscow born singer songwriter, Regina Spektor releases her upcoming album Remember Us To Life on September 30th and has released another single with ‘Black and White’ in the lead up to it. This is certainly a track more in Spektor’s comfort zone with the quivering strings and smooth piano chords that allow her to deploy her soft, delicate vocals. There is the odd lightly warped echo on her vocal and sparing use of a synthesiser, but ultimately it’s another graceful and wistful track from Regina. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Regina Spektor – Small Bill$

The classically trained Muscovite has another single for her upcoming album Remember Us To Life and ‘Small Bill$’ is an enigmatic and fusing track and reflects the greater fluctuations in Spektor’s style more generally. With this track she features the rumbling strings and dramatic piano chords that are a common feature of her work, but these are fused with shuffling percussion and a tuneful rap of sorts. The track is more direct and obtuse than the previous single and for the most part works well as a concept, whilst not so well gelled together in others. An intriguing if not successful addition. 

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Regina Spektor – Bleeding Heart

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Regina Spektor, she is a Moscow born and New York based classically trained pianist who has announced her fifth album Remember Us To Life. Her first album in four years will be a marker for Regina, who has gradually experimented and strayed away from the piano based tracks at the turn of the decade. Her new track ‘Bleeding Heart’ provides a healthy balance between her subtly delivered piano pieces and minimalist electronica presented in a innocent Pop fashion. The song is for the most part a delicate and steady piece of eccentric Pop, but it concludes with a full rock arrangement with reverberating guitars and distorted synths that allow Regina to unleash some of the power in her vocals. Remember Us To Life is out on September 30th and they’ll be some more interesting singles before that date so keep an ear out for them.

Owen Riddle