Ashland release music video for “Always Something,” off their debut album “Wildfire,” out now

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Album Review: Doll Skin’s “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

“Shut Up (You Miss Me)” sets the tone for “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” as relentlessly defiant and in-your-face. It’s a record for underdogs, and slingshots between the personal and political with an outsider’s perspective on each matter. This album relies much more on production than Doll Skin’s previous release “In Your Face,” and suffers somewhat from it. The tracks are still energetic and raw, but have a more streamlined feel to them, condensing the instrumentals into a shinier, less aggressive backbone. This in itself isn’t a problem, but sharper, more hard-edged instrumentals would better fit the riot grrl, punk style that Doll Skin have developed. In this vein, Dolezal’s vocals are reckless, lyrics thrown out at high velocity, finding your ears with impeccable aim. A penchant for ambitious solos breaks up the pop-rock vibes of the album, until things slow down a bit on “Sweet Pea,” giving us a chance to see what Dolezal sounds like when her lyrics aren’t devolving into screams. It’s refreshing, both as a musical change and a switch from “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”‘s belligerent mood to something sweeter. The album takes a dramatic turn on “Persephone,” shifting from pop-rock punk towards metal. The album ends with a cover of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited,” leaving the listener with an eerie, unsettled feeling. It serves as a reminder that all the things Doll Skin were raging against on the album are here to stay; there’s a reason the band is protesting them.

“Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is chock-full of pop-inspired hooks, backed by tightly wound pop-rock guitar riffs and driving drumbeats. For those that were expecting the next hard rock phenomenon, this isn’t it. Doll Skin aren’t that clean cut. There are certainly elements of hard rock and metal, as one would expect from a group that’s been taken under the wing of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. But there are equally as many pop and pop-punk influences evident on their newest album. More than anything, “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is a punk record. The instrumentals may skew towards pop-rock for the most part, but the tempo pushes everything up a notch, turning each riff and drumroll into something frantic and wild. Add to this frenzied vocals and passionate, pointed lyrics and you’ve got a de facto punk band, even if they don’t necessarily check all the boxes. Based on “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” Doll Skin have a promising future ahead of them.

Similar to: Halestorm, Bikini Kill, Bad Seed Rising

Favorites: “Daughter,” “Shut Up (You Miss Me),” “Baby’s Breath”