It’s been a few years since Deap Vally released their debut, but Femejism still packs a feminist punch, proving that the LA rock duo, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards, have held onto that same defiant energy that made 2013’s Sistrionix such a success. Femejism’s title is provocative and sets the album’s intention, reflecting the duo’s authentic desire to change the world, one feminist anthem at a time.
‘Royal Jelly’ begins Deap Vally’s manifesto; headstrong and defiant, yet a comfortable introduction for fans of Sistrionix. Femejism does not just jump on the bandwagon of writing about feminism simply because both band members are women and the movement has become mainstream. The message is deeper and more believable, though there are still romanticised visuals of femininity throughout the record. Queen bees, teens and beauty queens all inhabit the world of Deap Vally, with their sickly sweet personas leaving a sour aftertaste. Whilst queen bees are empowered women, beauty queens are symbols of their objectification. ‘Little Baby Beauty Queen’ criticises older generations for forcing their backwards beauty ideals on young girls, whilst ‘Teenage Queen’ picks apart society’s fetishisation of youth.
Femejism repeatedly asserts itself as the album for internet generation feminists who don’t give a fuck. ‘Smile More’ is the most relevant track, directing the duo’s anger towards strangers who tell women to “Smile more” or anyone who tries to make them feel ashamed for not being perfect. The bratty intro of ‘Gonnawanna’ turns into an impassioned tyrade against politics and social media culture. On first listen the album shines, these big punchy moments fired up by Deap Vally’s feral anger weaved throughout. After first listen, the themes become repetitive. In some songs the message is lost in their mundanity. ‘Grunge Bond’ does not live up to the promise of its title.
The closest Troy and Edwards get to writing love songs are mocking tales of high school romance. Troy impersonates a teenage breakup over the phone in ‘Julian’, with her breathy, high voice deriding the situation. The romantic dream girl is dismantled as Troy tells her ex, “We’re not in love so let’s just dance.” ‘Two Seat Bike’ opens with the voices of warped Pink Ladies even more badass Rizzo. Troy describes an innocent adolescent suburban romance, before breaking into a chorus about making a porno.
The album has some shining moments, but its cohesive opening falls apart as it progresses. A number of tracks show how Deap Vally have matured, but some songs feel as though they have no place on the album. ‘Critic’ is the only acoustic song and its presence weakens the record, with the theme of musicians criticising the music industry coming across as petty and unoriginal.
Femejism is bold and empowering with riot grrl influences setting the pace for raucous feminist anthems, though its strong message is not enough to hold up the weaker tracks on the album and make Deap Vally a key voice after such a long break between albums.