Before I had even heard a single note from Boss Lady, the new EP from Fat Wreck Chords’ Bad Cop/Bad Cop, I was already excited about it. The press release include the following excerpt from the lyrics – “Shove your labels / we’ll flip your tables / and we won’t apologize / for causing a scene.”, and that last bit, not apologizing for causing a scene, coupled with the fact that this band is made up entirely of females, made me think of the Russian protest band Pussy Riot, members of which were famously jailed last year for “hooliganism”. More recently, they were attacked while protesting Russia’s policies regarding homosexuality at the Winter Olympics. It’s amazing to me that in the 21st century, with all the technology and wonders of our modern world, we still have to deal with nonsense like bigotry. At the same time, though, I’m grateful for brave people, regardless of gender, who stand up for their rights in the face of real danger. In America, the worst thing that’s likely to happen to someone who protests is a short jail term – unpleasant, to be sure, but not life-threatening. In other parts of the world, women are protesting for much more basic freedoms and face much more severe penalties. That’s how change happens, though – when decent people put their lives on the line – and freedom wouldn’t be possible without such sacrifices.
The above is the state of mind I was in when I sat down to review Bad Cop/Bad Cop’s album. Ready and willing to like it because the band made me think of some genuine heroes. I expected it to be abrasive, maybe a little difficult to listen to, but thought provoking and altogether rewarding in the end. What I got was something else altogether. Musically, it’s not dissimilar to much of what this label was putting out about 20 years ago – smooth, harmony-laden, hooky-as-hell rock with just enough of a sneer that the “punk” term kinda-sorta fits – absolutely in line with the Orange County/Southern California sound made famous by bands like NOFX and No Use For a Name. Now, I should say before going any further, that I absolutely adore this style of music. It reminds me of my youth and pumps me up without being so angry that I can’t play it in the car with my wife. It’s a good balance. What it is NOT, though, is something that’s going to change the way anyone thinks. Don’t listen to this expecting to be challenged. With lyrics like “I am who I am / and that’s who I want to be”, this isn’t rocket science. It’s hardly 9th grade algebra, but it’s not aspiring to be anything other than what it is, which is fun, melodic rock. The fact that it’s all performed by gals, (extremely competently, I should add), doesn’t really enter into the equation, except as a reminder that the differences between the sexes aren’t as great as we like to think sometimes, and maybe that’s the most important lesson of all. So, if you’re looking for the American answer to Pussy Riot, this ain’t it, friends. If you just want something to get your foot tapping while you hum along and drive over the speed limit, this should fit the bill quite nicely. 7.5 out of 10.