For my report I’ll be talking about Britpop icon, Justine Frischmann. She’s a painter now, and a damn good one, though back in her day, she was effortlessly cool and massively influential to not only that movement but also a huge variety of female-fronted rock groups later on, and certainly at the time. In the early years, Frischmann played guitar with Suede, the scene’s incendiary band. She was dating lead-singer Brett Anderson at that point, and after they broke up she left, though instead of falling by the wayside like many exes might do, she formed her own band that--while only putting out two albums--made such waves that their ripples are still being felt.
What would Britpop be without Elastica? To look back now, it’s easy to think everything was peaches and gravy--what with everyone listening to the same stuff, getting themselves deeply involved with the Blur and Oasis beef--but it’s important to understand the role politics played in the story. They, as per usual, ruined everything. Along with the rest of the nation, the Cool Britannia movement swept up Prime Minister Tony Blair, making of him a total pop geek. He would rank his best songs of the year in magazines, schmooze with Blur and Oasis at Number 10, and this, even for Labour (center-left political party in the UK) supporters was not cool to see. Cool Britannia had worked its way into Parliament, and while I’m sure the intention was harmless, or even noble, the result was a sense of betrayal amongst lower-class fans. Say what you will, but explicit governmental backing is never “cool.”
In Britpop’s heyday though--even while dating Blur frontman Damon Albarn--Frischmann never sank so low. She hated being in the spotlight, never dressed up, avoided being interviewed, and when she was never did she sugarcoat her relationship status. To quote a 2020 article from Riposte, (“Icons: Justine Frischmann,” Author Unknown) whenever she was caught by the paparazzi with Albarn, “she gave off this vibe of ‘Yeah, I’m going out with the world’s most lusted-after man, but he’s a fucking nightmare to be honest and he’s lucky to have me.’” Despite her success, a lot of shitty Blur fans just saw her as Damon’s girlfriend, but how much Blur are we hearing now? “Song 2.” That’s it--and they only did that one to break through to the American grunge market. You fell for it. Elastica, however, have a debut chock-full of greats that’s perhaps more solid than any Blur outing was, boasting the stellar “Connection,” which I’m happy to hear is getting more airplay over here all the time.
Frischmann influenced so many rock groups that it isn’t even funny. Paramore. Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Arctic Monkeys and Le Tigre. I don’t know if any of them would have been without her, or at least not in the same form. Because despite their feminine perspective, Elastica brought something to the table that none of the others did in Britpop, and that’s the air of menace and ferocious sexuality. Suede wrote sexy music, sure, but not like Elastica did. Their songs were these angry bursts of nonchalance that couldn’t be found in any other albums getting all the airplay. Oasis were belligerent drunks, Suede spacey addicts, Pulp horny art-schoolers, and Blur were the boys you could take home to Mother. Out of all of them, Elastica were--and I say this knowing there was only one guy in their band--the alphas in this boys-club.
Frischmann and Albarn sent each other on a downward spiral of drug-addiction, and even knowing how the public would take it, she was the dumper and essentially ditched music for good. Good for her. She’s doing great. As stated earlier, she now spends her time painting, and is wonderful at it. The woman is a creator, but if it wasn’t clear already, she creates because it’s her drive and no amount of praise is worth compromising it. She doesn’t look back on the Britpop days fondly, having seen early on the disaster it would become (shitting up and down Blur’s acclaimed The Great Escape before it was cool to, shutting down the irrepressibly pompous Liam Gallagher in the press, and posing for one now-famous photo on the way from the Tesco when approached by a papparazzo) but it would be wrong to dismiss the influence she had, especially in Britain, and continues to have even today. Cheers, Justine! This yank wants to thank you for everything!
Check out my favorite music of Justine's here!