Last year saw popular rock music briefly shimmy away from folk and back to the electric guitar. ‘Lonely Boy’ did a ‘Sex on Fire’, becoming a firm lad-rock favourite, soundtracking sports teams worldwide and propelling the Black Keys into the public consciousness. Amongst the endless stream of drippy, sentimental boys with guitars, feeding us an endless supply of drippy, sentimental mush, it was a welcome shake-up.
It’s in the Black Keys school of blues rock that Deap Vally hope to find their niche. Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards were two struggling musicians when they united in Los Angeles in 2011 to form Deap Vally. The duo’s debut album Sistrionix covers familiar ground: sex, drugs and partying, delivered to us by way of balls-to-the-wall rock.
“Balls-to-the-wall rock” – such a cliché, but is there any other way to put it? Deap Vally are loud, they’re brash, they’re unapologetically rude and crude, loudly dispelling any beliefs that rock ’n’ roll is a boy’s game. Songs like ‘Gonna Make My Own Money’ and ‘Walk of Shame’ are pretty much as “girl power” as you can get, with singer Troy yowling “I’ve got better things to do / I can’t get breakfast with you” at her one-time suitor.
Troy’s voice is the key ingredient to Deap Vally’s brand of blues rock- a primal shriek, somewhere between Fever to Tell-era Karen O and Juliette Lewis, showcased best on the single ‘Baby I Call Hell’ and again on ‘Bad for My Body’. On the latter, easily the album’s standout track, she sings “If our mother’s only knew / The trouble that we get into” before coyly adding “but mother dear, you did it too”.
For those looking for a let up, don’t bother. Deap Vally don’t go in for ballads, maintaining an admirable zest for drinking, partying and general tomfoolery over ten tracks. Final track ‘Six Feet Under’, slows it down just slightly, stretched out to nine minutes to accommodate an acapella “hidden” track, but Deap Vally don’t make songs to chill out to – it’s mosh or get off the pot.
Sistrionix contains nothing new, but as an album of party songs it’s one of the better ones. Deap Vally aren’t trying to reinvent rock music, just have a whole lot of fun, and in that they succeed.