Be grateful you have any space here at all.
The whole world is telling womxn to, essentially, GTFO: of politics, music, art, activism, science, everything ever. The whole world is telling womxn, especially girls, especially girls of color, to be grateful for the space they have, that tiny, lukewarm, or even ice-cold pocket of cultural real estate, to sit down and shut up, to purse our lips and be what we’re expected to be, nothing more, not to over-assert ourselves or our hunger, our creativity, our changemaking. We of course must be overjoyed with a sliver, a hangnail validation, a space we can barely fit into at all. If we’re to enter these spaces at all, we must be polite and eternally, unequivocally thankful, even to our oppressors, to the systems that perpetuate and glamorize such oppression.
The Aquadolls don’t alleviate my rage, because that isn’t their job. They transcribe it into art, into a new canon of brazenness. Their new song “Suck on This” invokes the raw pink of a blister. You can feel the influence of Hole’s Live Through This with every word, Courtney Love seemingly inches away from this song, that hoarse beauty of her voice—like a screwdriver in your chest—reverberating in The Aquadolls’ sound. To compare every womxn-led rock band to Hole is reductive, of course, but that clawing-open sound really does feel like an homage to their music.
When I forget to take my antidepressants, rage grows in me like a crooked bone. Anger too brackish and abrupt to understand wells up and makes itself unignorable, a lesion where there’s usually a sealed-over void. The effect of “Suck on This” is similar, with lyrics like:
“You in the band? / I am the band.”
Meaning: stop mistaking me for something supplemental, collateral. Stop thinking you own music itself and all its coarseness, its iridescence, its bite. The fact that “girl-band” is a term at all makes my eyes roll, but even now “girls,” AKA young women, walk into venues, guitars and gear in hand, and still men squint at them with suspicion or condescension, assuming that these must be the actual band’s girlfriends. “Girl-band,” they think, must be an oxymoron, because girls can’t be in real bands; girls cannot unleash unchecked, garage-rock anger and lose their shit onstage while remaining artists. “I wanna be the girl with the most cake” isn’t, apparently, as profound as “Rape me, rape me my friend.” “Suck on This” blanches at the “girl-band” mockery and swells with a justified, unabashed anger. They aren’t asking to be heard, to be taken seriously, to be given space; they’re just damn taking it: “Why don’t you stand back and suck on this?”
The artfulness of a song like this can go underrecognized. On their website, The Aquadolls describe their sound as “mermaid rock n’ roll,” which seems about right. They aren’t concerned, or apologetic, or needlessly, ultimately gentle—their songs latch onto our ships and surfboards and catapult us downwards, into the cold, glimmering otherworld of mermaids, women with sea salt in their blood and no fear of sharks. The deep part of the ocean, meaning the deepest-deep, Mariana Trench level, might be more joyful than we believe. What’s down there might be more crass and colorful than anything close to the surface: the monstrous, the sea-borne, the tangled and unkempt, is much more interesting than the sweet white-blue of the world we know.
Listen to “Suck on This” here.
By Sofia Sears
Photos by Diego Smith