Besides being simply super-cool, the one thing that originally struck me about L7 back in the early ‘90s was that they just didn’t fit in with any scene. They were too metal for the punks and alternatives, too punk for the headbangers, too alternative for the mainstream, too decadent for the riot grrrls, and too awesome for the folks that just didn’t care (much like the gals themselves). That said, they snuck in under the radar and managed to create their legendary status with at least one classic album (Bricks Are Heavy), organised the Rock For Choice benefit concerts, were cherry-picked for hip soundtracks like Natural Born Killers, and pissed a LOT of people off. That to me was proper punk rock cred, something that has always kept my attention.
Unfortunately, once the late ‘90s hit and the dust started to settle on grunge and the general alternative scenes, sales started to drop and L7 released their final album, Slap-Happy, in 1999. Thereafter, they disbanded in 2001 and went their separate ways, leaving their solid, grimy mark in music history. Fast-forward to 2014 – the group re-unites for a few shows and events, and then release a crowd-funded documentary in 2016. A single entitled “Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago” was released in 2017, and another (“I Came Back To Bitch”) in 2018, with an announcement that there was finally a new album in the works through Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records. And the world rejoiced.
Watch the video for the first single, “Burn Baby,” here:
Let me start off by saying that Scatter The Rats (streaming and purchase options here) is not a classic album that will kick Bricks Are Heavy or Hungry For Stink off your playlist, but it’s as solid as any fan could expect of ladies now in their 50s that still have something to say (or shout, as the case may be). With eleven tracks in 36 minutes, they roar through all the walls and obstacles that they’ve been saving up and stewing through over the past 20 years and, with the exception of a couple of truly fast punk tracks, the rest of the record is mid-paced, methodical, and indicative of a band that has matured and lived through more than a few stories.
We still get L7-worthy crunchy guitars and excellent backing vocals, but every once in a while, the vocals sound a little tired, the lyrics try a little too hard to be relevant (especially on “Murky Water Cafe”), and I get the feeling that the band don’t want to experiment or break any boundaries here – they have mentioned in interviews that they want to remain a “meat-and-potatoes rock band.” Whilst this would be fine for other groups coming out of retirement, I really wanted them to ruffle some feathers and burn a few bridges, but I completely get where they are coming from and can enjoy the music for what it is.
And here’s some extra action with the official video for “Stadium West”:
As an L7 fan, I really dig it and give them a virtual high-five for kicking ass in a new era – it’s brave and independent, just like the band itself. Songs like “Burn Baby,” “Stadium West,” and “Garbage Truck” are destined to become staples as they continue the live circuit, burning with the same intensity and vitriol that we have all come to expect, and I can only assume that they will push on further recordings. Even if they don’t, L7 are back and as entertaining as ever with Scatter The Rats.
Scatter The Rats Track Listing:
01. Burn Baby
02. Fighting The Crave
03. Proto Prototype
04. Stadium West
05. Murky Water Cafe
06. Ouija Board Lies
07. Garbage Truck
08. Holding Pattern
09. Uppin’ The Ice
10. Cool About Easy
11. Scatter The Rats
Run Time: 36 minutes
Release Date: May 3, 2019
Record Label: Blackheart Records