I was a pretty strange little girl. While the other girls at my preschool were playing princess-dress-up, I was collecting bugs in a dirt patch. My parents bought me a Barbie Dream House once. I ended up cutting off the dolls’ hair, covering them with paint and Crayola marker ink, and ultimately mutilated them before throwing them out and proclaiming “No Barbies allowed! Only dinosaurs and animals!” as I filled the pink plastic mansion with brontosauruses and pterodactyls. I don’t think I ever wore a feminine Halloween costume until I was thirteen (previous Hollows’ Eve ensembles included a T. Rex, a Wolf, a Sorcerer, and Bob Marley). It wasn’t until my early teens that I realized that being a girl didn’t mean that I had to be pretty in pink and plastered in princess-y pomp. A girl can be a trailblazer. A girl can be a scientist. A girl can be a senator. A girl can be a leader. A girl can be intelligent. A girl can be independent. A girl can be powerful. A girl can be anything.
They told me that the classics never go out of style but, they do, they do.
Somehow baby, I never thought that we do too.
– “Worms of the Senses”, Refused
In style or not, you’d have to be pampered, tone-deaf guinea pig living in a sheltered hamster-ball-topia with giant wads of cotton stuffed in your ears to not hear the incredible, revolutionary force of the album The Shape of Punk to Come by the Swedish group Refused.
If you were trying to organize your record collection by putting them in labelled boxes sorted by genre, I don’t think you could do it. Listening to The Shape of Punk to Come, it’s pretty obviously punk, but there’s more. It’s got the angsty, blood-curdling, empowering screams and heavy, rhythmic power chords that every good hardcore band should have, but there’s also flavors of experimentalism that I usually associate with the art rock style of Pink Floyd (did I just commit punk heresy by saying that? Maybe the Velvet Underground instead), taking the listener down from the angry pedestal of rebellion to introspectively reflect upon the same revolutionary, anti-commercial themes through a more level, sober lens. The album features spoken-word poetry, sounds from the streets, electronic music, Eastern European folk, and even some accordion. It seems that the band thought up every musical rhetorical strategy they could use in order to get their message across to the listener on every level possible, appealing to both the radical vigilante and reflective philosopher found in the minds of many music lovers. Continue reading