L7 – Scatter The Rats – LP


EAN – 0748337191915

Out of stock


Donita Sparks, the fearless vocalist and guitarist for the Los Angeles grunge four-piece L7, likes to trot out a pet sound bite during interviews. “We’re a meat-and-potatoes rock band with a conscience and some humor,” she told The Current last year. “We just want to [be] meat-and-potatoes L7,” she said in 2015, around the time the band embarked on a reunion tour. To promote Scatter the Rats, their first new material in 20 years, she’s quoted in an updated band bio saying, “I think it’s good for people to enjoy a meat-and-potatoes rock band for a change.”

Any L7 fan could easily identify what constitutes the group’s potatoes: heavy, take-no-prisoners power chords backing blistering solos; bratty vocals often sang (and occasionally shouted) in call-and-response style; solid, no-frills, beat-keeping drums. The meat, on the other hand—the stuff that gives L7 their substance —has shifted slightly over their 24-year career. When they formed in 1985, they were four women from the art-punk scene obsessed with Motörhead, the Ramones, and Black Sabbath. The substance was overtly political and unapologetically aggressive. In their 2019 return, Scatter the Rats, the potatoes are still there, but the meat has gone a little off.

In the early to mid-’90s, they were a force of nature—all scuzzy makeup and wild hair, searing guitar solos and squealing vocals, and stage antics that exemplified their contentious relationship with the very male world around them. (In a frequently cited incident, Sparks once pulled her tampon out on stage and threw it into a crowd of hecklers, shouting, “Eat my used tampon, fuckers!”) In 1991, L7 launched Rock for Choice, a series of concerts that raised money for pro-choice campaigns—Nirvana and Hole headlined the first one.

But while their grunge contemporaries became mainstream darlings, L7 struggled to survive. “At our peak, I really don’t know where the money went,” Sparks told Billboard in 2017. By 1998’s The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, their revolutionary fire had dwindled to embers, and they were dropped from their label. 1999’s Slap-Happy was a critical flop, and in 2001, L7 went on an indefinite hiatus. Sparks attributed their lack of mainstream success in part to critics pigeonholing them for their gender. “We were not on a political platform,” she said in the same interview. “We formed Rock for Choice, but we were not riot grrrls. We were grown-ass women, not college kids. And riot grrrl was very serious, and we had a lot of fun.”

Scatter the Rats hopes to reinvigorate this legacy. In 2017 and 2018, L7 released their first new singles since Slap-Happy, and hopes ran high: “Dispatch From Mar-A-Lago” was a call to storm the gates of Trump’s private country club, while “I Came Back to Bitch” was an electrifying announcement of the group’s return to fighting the patriarchy. L7, in all their mighty, angry, fuck-you glory, was back.

If Scatter the Rats had sustained the momentum of these singles (neither appears on the record), it would be a resounding triumph. Instead, the 11-song record lacks the forcefulness and murderous moxie that gave L7 their early power. There are hints of it in the frenetic lead guitar line of “Stadium West” and in Sparks’ “Lock us up, lock us up” chant on “Burn Baby,” one of the few subtly political references on the record. “Garbage Truck,” written by the band’s original bassist Jennifer Finch, has Misfits energy with L7’s signature sense of humor. And “Holding Pattern” is an uncharacteristic departure, with minimal distortion and lyrics detailing stuck-in-cement depression. It’s remarkably nuanced and vulnerable, and by far the album’s best track.

Which is why lines that resort to cliché or grab at low-hanging cultural fruit feel not only dated, but cringeworthy. “Murky Water Cafe” somehow falls on both: “Free Wi-Fi come on down,” Sparks sings, grumbling “We’re emojifying our every move/It’s painting bad pictures in my head.” The title track is weighed down by bewildering observations like “Some people say pigeons are rats with wings/These can’t fly, get rid of these things/Leaving a trail, destructive wake/Get ‘em gone, for heaven’s sake.” They sell themselves short by assuming they were just another meat-and-potatoes rock band, and on Scatter the Rats’ weakest moments, they actually sound like one.

The L7 reunion skeptic would say that the Buzzfeedification of media (“Only 90s kids will remember…”) has left the public so beholden to the 20-year nostalgia cycle that they will seize the opportunity to revisit just about anything. But the true shame of Scatter the Rats is that L7 are better than that: They were subversive, they were dirty and mean, and they deserve more than to be just another pop-culture trivia question. pitchfork.com

Tracklisting :

A1 Burn Baby 2:31
A2 Fighting The Crave 3:22
A3 Proto Prototype 3:12
A4 Stadium West 3:43
A5 Murky Water Cafe 4:00
B1 Ouija Board Lies 2:59
B2 Garbage Truck 2:27
B3 Holding Pattern 3:06
B4 Uppin’ The Ice 3:33
B5 Cool About Easy 3:22
B6 Scatter The Rats 4:27

Additional information
Weight 300 g




Privacy Preference Center