Love or Perish

Start from Zero

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Close to a decade after the heyday of queercore, a more boy-inclusive offshoot of the riot grrrl scene, Love or Perish reunite Bratmobile's Molly Neuman with the Peechees' Carlos CaƱedo (Neuman had also drummed in that sadly short-lived band) behind singer Massimo Scoditti's herky-jerky punk-pop tunes. The scrappy trio delivers a solid line in high-energy, low-pretension punk with often sociopolitical lyrics that rarely get too abstract and lack the hectoring quality that occasionally hampered some of the first-generation queercore bands. (The New York Dolls-like swagger of "Boys," which gleefully objectifies men in a way that few contemporary heterosexual singers would dare objectify women, would likely have been considered insufficiently serious by many back in the day.) Indeed, the emphasis here is not on the lyrics at all, but on the brashness of the first-generation punk sound, which echoes old-school U.K. punk acts ranging from the Buzzcocks and Undertones to Stiff Little Fingers and Sham 69. At ten songs in just under 30 minutes, Start from Zero is brashly efficient and spunkily energetic enough to allow most listeners to overlook the creeping sense that Love or Perish aren't offering much more than an entertaining retread of punk subgenres past.

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