Bitchin' | Purple Feather
The Donnas do what the Donnas do, and, hard as it may be to believe, they’ve been doing it for more than a decade. Call it a stripped-down, garage-punked take on early Kiss/Mötley Crüe glam metal, delivered with a hefty dose of smokin’-in-the-boys’-room attitude. The Donnas’ coming-out party, 1998’s American Rock ’n’ Roll Machine (Lookout!), has been a tough act for them to follow, even as they emerged on a major label in 2002. (Atlantic backed the foursome for two albums.) Now returned to their own Purple Feather label, the band haven’t changed their bad-grrrl rock-and-roll-queenie approach (“I want it bad/I want it now” sings Brett Anderson in “Wasted,” a song based on the old love-is-a-drug cliché) so much as they’ve refined it. And refinement is a double-edged sword. Early on, there was something appealing about the Donnas’ raw, teasing, tongue-in-cheek take on boy rock and their rudimentary arena-rock riffage. Seven albums later, guitarist Allison Robertson’s leads may be more polished, and flamboyant embellishments like the “Love Gun” snare salvos that kick off the disc’s title track may be tighter, but it feels as if the band’s loose, party-hearty excitement had run its course. Indeed, they seem in a rush to get through Bitchin’: each track rams into the next, like a desperate football team running a hurry-up offense with no time-outs. The Donnas get the ball into the red zone from time to time on Bitchin’, but they never really score.
The Donnas + Donita Sparks | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | October 7 | 617.931.2000