Fronted by the purposeful Teri Gender Bender, the Mexican/American punk trio Le Butcherettes are building an impressive curriculum vitae when it comes to opening up for acts including Faith No More, Deftones and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their stage props include feather dusters, fake blood, flour and meat – to name a few items to be packed onto the tour bus along with the amps and musical instruments. On this, their third album, they have once again acquired the services of Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez at the production helm.
What is strikingly evident this time around is their quirky punk has an extra polish and shine on the production, compared to previous albums ‘‘Sin Sin Sin’’ and ‘‘Cry is For the flies’’, while the elaborate addition of synths and keyboards has expanded the sound further afield from the raw, edgy, guitar induced spit and snarl punk of old. Although not quite the massive shock ‘n’ awe leap from raw punk to glossy shiny pop as the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s did with their third album ‘‘It’s Blitz’’, ‘‘A Raw Youth’’ is still a development which could potentially split some of their original fans, but on the whole still retains enough grit, which should keep many on board, while on another level may elevate them a bit further by reaching out to a wider audience.
However, don’t let the gloss fool anyone into thinking Teri has mellowed – themes of female oppression and maltreatment past and present are still high on the agenda and none more so than with ‘‘They Fuck You Over’’: a defiant angry punk pop blast with sing along ‘na na na’ refrain. The single ‘Shave the Pride’ equals the debut albums ‘Henry Don’t Got Love’ as a catchy attention-grabbing burst of a song, with plenty of attitude. While the bouncy, pulse beating and explosive ‘Stab Your Back’ should also appease older fans.
Not to take anything away from the rest of the band, but the star of the show is Teri who’s vocals, a mix of Kate Bush, Karen O and Danielle Dax, at their most theatrical shriek and shrill, excel in taking centre stage on every song. Although she is happy to share vocal duties with Iggy Pop on one of the many album highlights ‘La Uva’, a quite brilliant swirling mix of sounds played backwards, it’s full of mystique, aided by the contrasting tones of Teri and Iggy singing in Spanish. Other gems are the slow power blast of ‘Witchless C Spot’ and ‘Sold Less Than Gold’ – the juxtaposition of bright synth pop with disturbing first person account of child slavery.
Minor criticism is the inclusion of a couple of songs which overload the synth pop quota a tad, and ‘My Half’ featuring John Frusciante is a nondescript album closer, but there are many songs on this album, which are undeniably catchy, bold, thought provoking, and are delivered with panache. Despite Le Butcherettes swerve into poppier waters, they still pack a punch.