In forming any band there must be an element of time taken deciding on a name. Clearly, this is a very big part of the band’s identity which sets it apart from others who are also craving attention from the masses. In forming a punk band, the majority prefer the aggressive, political or comical title sometimes giving a clear indication of what they are about…so what can we expect from a band called The Soap Girls? This, reputedly, is a name taken by the two sisters after selling soap on a street corner when aged eight and nine. Now, instead of selling soap they are getting crowds in a lather with a guitar and bass slung over their shoulders, making a name for themselves with more than their music.
The Soap Girls are sisters Camille and Noemie Debrey and have been performing from that young age to audiences around the globe, not only exposing the world to their music and strong beliefs but also to their partially-clothed bodies. This has at times got The Soap Girls into very hot water, on one occasion even being drenched in buckets of fake blood mid-set which would have tested the most hardened of rockers’ resolve. The girls’ live shows consist of wearing nothing more than a guitar and some sticky tape or a few strands of material covering their modesty, stating that being partially clothed should be just as acceptable for them as it is for male bands on stage pointing out equality for female musicians. Others may say it’s nothing more than cheap publicity to sell their music and get people through the door, hoping to propel themselves into the spotlight nationally or internationally. The question might be asked if this were the case would they not choose a more forgiving genre than punk rock to ply their trade, and would it also not be more lucrative to sing the pretty plink-plink-plonk music churned out by the bucket full in the commercial charts? Near-naked torsos may get you a round of applause backed by wolf whistles as you walk on stage, but if you haven’t got the songs to back it up your bubble won’t take long to burst completely.
The band have just released their new album entitled Society’s Rejects with all songs written by bass-playing Camille and guitarist Noemie. This is the third album from the band, following on from Xperience in 2011 and Calls for Rebellion in 2016. There is no gentle introduction to the new album as the title track gets you told in no uncertain terms where The Soap Girls get their influence. With not a hint of Beyonce, Madonna or even Lady GaGa this is L7, Joan Jett and even Wendy O’Williams territory. Heavy bass and drums drives the track throughout the gutter guitar chords, with the sweetly projected and slightly rasping lyrics and don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. If you had any doubts about the musical substance of The Soap Girls it’s put right with this first track, a chainsaw of a song wrapped up in a pretty little bow.
We are then introduced to Johnny Rotten. You might think it’s a homage to the one-time Sex Pistol and his contribution to punk; it is in fact a song about murder in the family home with Johnny being very active in the bludgeoning department. Another heavy bass influence runs through the song like a piledriver, with some infectious harmonies splattering the fear and anxiousness of the lead vocals.
A definite grunge influence surfaces with the track Air. It’s catchy chorus drags you under to experience its twists and turns, ebbs and flows with the heavy current washing you away down the musical river, before paddling in the softer-sounding vocal ending.
Although for me there is a big grunge influence, the album does have a modern feel to it: in fact there is a diverse collection of tunes here with vocals from both girls differing but complementing each other. A more mellow pace is adopted in the shape of You Hate Losing and Drag You Down, where a more controlled direct vocal and a methodical tune shows another side to the band. This leads you by the hand into Break You where you are verbally assaulted from the start before your ears are exposed to anger and rage; this is a track that definitely uses anger as an energy. The chorus is a glass-gurgling screech that has no little melody backing it up: every vocal chord straining with intent and on the verge of exploding. The album closes with a more pop-punk sounding Bad Bitch and Rather B Dead which although not anything new or fresh does show the bands diversity in creating differing sounds.
The Soap Girls have come up with some very good tracks on a good album. They have taken influence from past and present but also put their own mark on the fifteen songs on show here. Yeah these girls may wear little on stage but they also show they have bollocks and big ones at that: braving the stage to deliver their music in some of the most hostile venues around the country to a punk audience requires them. What’s more controversial is the number of tits Simon Cowell fills the charts with every year, with songs that have the bollocks surgically removed.