Consistency is not something oft associated with the world of rock and
roll, but L7 have their brand of rock fury down pat. Together now for just
over a decade, L7 have been churning out albums of consistent quality
since their first release in 1987 on Epitaph Records. With their latest
album, The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, L7 once again showcase
their tough, guitar-laden talent also revealing in their lyrics an ironic
wittiness much less explored in their previous releases.
With the departure of bassist Jennifer Finch, the entire album was
recorded by the three remaining band members. Bassist Gail Greenwood (of
Belly fame) joined the band after the completion of the album and despite
the lineup change L7 is rocking harder than ever.
Undoubtably, some of the toughest women in rock, L7 kick off the album
with a 58 second tribute to the beauty process. This is quickly followed
by a track that is vintage L7 called "Drama". Initially, I was somewhat
confused by the first line which I took to be "One, one, one and one is
two." However to my relief, upon closer inspection of the lyric sheet the
actual words turned out to be "wah wah one and one is two." Having cleared
up this miscalculation I was free to enjoy the rest of the song which is
forcefully propelled along by a driving drum beat pumped out by L7's most
excellent drummer Dee Plakas. Another ironic gem of wisdom in the song:
"My piss is yellow and the sky is blue." Um..yeah. The song contains a
totally metal-esque solo and by the end of it you remember just why it was
that you thought L7 was so cool.
Next is a freaky honky tonk piano enhanced song appropriated titled "Off
the Wagon." An anthem for the alcoholic responsibility recognized and
promptly ignored by most of us, a key line is: "Hit every bar on the
boulevard/ Bad idea yeah you're probably right/ But I won't be a
designated driver tonight/ Off the wagon and on the town." This track
deviates from past L7 tunes in that it introduces their more pop
influenced side. Their lyrics also reveal a sense of humor and lack of
angst that is refreshing, "Just how much I've embarrassed myself/Well I
haven't got a clue/ Did I throw a drink in your face/ Or tell how much I
love you/ Oh shit I lost my ID/ Hook up the Jagermeister IV."
The next song, "I Need", is so repetitive its only redeeming feature is
the backup vocals which remind me of the theme song to The Good, The
Bad and The Ugly.
"Moonshine" starts off with a count-in contributed by none other than
Lionel Ritchie. The song could almost ride of the novelty of this alone
but it must be mentioned that this tune is probably the closest to a
ballad that L7 will ever come. It also has noteworthy backup vocals which
consist of "la la la la's" that pay tribute to the girl super groups of
"Bitter Wine" utilizes a supercool guitar effect that makes it sound like
the band is playing in a bubbly aquarium. With vocals that sound
disturbingly like Courtney Love, this song has a bridge that harkens back
to the noise guitars of Sonic Youth.
My favorite song on the album is track seven, "The Masses are Asses." Not
only does the title rule, but music rocks out with the evenly distorted
guitars that are signature L7.
"I still get angry, I still get sad, And the losers still drive me mad And
I wonder if I have anything to say anymore except The masses are asses.
They're all asses. Things still piss me off, and things still make me mad
Poetry's in motion but not in my mind."
Although this point might have been belabored in past articles, in
addition to being a successful rock band L7 have extended the boundaries
of cool by putting their popularity and power to good use in the formation
and support of 'Rock for Choice' an organization that works in conjunction
with the Feminist Majority Foundation.
"Must Have More" describes a relationship gone wrong. It starts off with
the catchiest riff on the album and also contains the best solo.
Her mouth is calling you, His hands are empty. My brain is
drying out, It was so hungry Must have more love for you My eyes are cold
and cracked, She cried a river He pulls his hair right out- tires to
forgive her Its in the atmosphere, You cannot hide it So many long sharp
tongues keep us divided
The album closes with an originally improvised song honoring three fans of
the group, "Lorenza, Giada, Alessandra." Basically, along with a couple of
"I love yous" those three names are the only words to the song. Yes, it is
repetitive, but its okay because then albums over.
And so what can be said of this album? At worst it is consistent to the
point of over repetition and at best it is the culmination of a decade's
worth of experience following a great rock band. Shaken by the departure
of a longtime bassist and with the excitement of a new member, L7 are
ushering in a new era. To me, The Beauty Process is an album that
signifies a band in transition for the first time in a long while, en
route to finding their rightful place in the world of rock and roll.