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