I discovered Bratmobile’s Ladies, Women, and Girls when I was a sophomore in highschool. It was the beginning of discovering how to become a riot grrrl. I am a riot grrrl because of Allison Wolfe & Bratmobile. Although the album was made in 2000, it can be felt in feminism today.
When I found the CD in WIDR’s collection, I saw a mini-review of the album taped on the back by Migraine Boy. They said “the closest comparison I thought of was the B52’s” and “grrrl punk with a late-70s new wave vibe.” While I agree partially because of the surf-esque guitar, it would be impossible to ignore Bikini Kill’s influence on Bratmobile. After all, Tobi Vail, Kathleen Hanna, and Kathi Wilcox were the original “Riot Grrrls.” The ideology of Bratmobile is far more important than the music itself. They existed because of the lack of girl punk, which is why I believe that Bratmobile looks back at Poly Styrene or The Raincoats, rather than Kate Pierson of the B52s.
For example, the second song on the album “Gimme Brains” is far more raw and truthful than that of an 80s hit single. The lyrics are feminist and angry. It feels like a song you know hundreds of other grrrls have screamed together. You can hear the influence of 90s fanzine rhetoric and it feels unprofessional in the best way possible. We know Bratmobile did not want to make radio hits, they wanted to make grrrls feel heard.
Other tracks such as “Girlfriends don’t keep” feel reminiscent of twee pop bands such as Beat Happening… Which makes sense. Bikini Kill and Beat Happening are also bands that arose from the Olympia, WA scene. “Girlfriends don’t keep” is a song that you’d think Allison Wolfe would sing, rather than her other hardcore punk tracks. It’s a cute song, but I believe that the intensity of their screaming, upbeat songs like “Eating Toothpaste” changed the lives of grrrls everywhere.
While my favorite of Bratmobile is their debut album, Ladies, Women, and Girls is still just as life changing. The meaning and depth of their words showed grrrls they can be angry, feminine, and punk all in the same breath. It’s revolutionary.