I first saw Hands Off Gretel back in 2015 and even back then seeing the effort they put into their soundcheck alone was a sign they were working hard and ready to play to a wider audience. Take a couple member changes and a few years down the line we are greeted with their sophmore effort ‘I Want The World’ with the band still having plenty more to give.
Imagine if Gwen Stefani fronted Nirvana in the 90’s – strange right? Well perhaps not, because here we have a band and an album that are swimming in grunge and paddling through with punk-feminist swagger. The guitars are loud and ferocious and are smothered in distortion at crucial chorus moments. The bass is low and rhythmic with memories of Krist Novoselic licks and the drums fill out any missing moments with hard and heavy playing. What stands out the most however is the band’s vocalist and guitarist and pretty much logo for Hands Off Gretel, Lauren Tate.
Lauren’s vocals are powerful and never throughout the album do you see any signs of them failing and feels like she could just keep going. Even though we’re in 2019, you can hear the influences in the music and Lauren’s vocal style and she could easily give bands such as Garbage, Hole and L7 a run for their money. Many vocal styles are incorporated through the record ranging from singing, sometimes with a raw edge to screeching highs echoing throughout the tracks.
The album is full of sass (they even have a track called ‘S.A.S.S.’) and attitude and sticks its middle finger up at normality and gross individuals and that edge defines this record. It’s not going to be told what to do and if the toys are being thrown out of the pram there is good reason for such an action. The appearance of the band and their music provide a gothic and circus-like edge to rock music and still manage to provide a very accessible sound. You get a bit of everything here with moments of hard rock, metal and punk.
It’s hard to avoid influences on this record, but the same could be said about any gritty guitar album, but there is a moment at the start of ‘Want The World’ where a child says “that little girl just stole my crown’ and straight away I’m thinking of Marilyn Manson’s track ‘Lunchbox’ with the line “this motherfucker’s gonna get my metal.” Like a lot of influences on this record, Hands of Gretel take these great sounds and mix them up with their bitchy and theatrical style that brings something new to the table.
It’s a grunge record through and through and has some easy to remember moments with the first half of the album standing out stronger than the latter. The latter does deliver some delightful melodies and delicate chorus effected guitars that really take me back to a 90’s rock-dominated scene. If you’ve been searching for a new album that fills your love of grunge then you might have found it here.