Liverpudlians Clinic dressed as a team of surgeons, so why can’t another punk-influenced collective cos-play as hospital patients? That kind of “why not?” approach sums up the mentality of maternity gowned supergroup Childbirth – bringing together Bree McKenna from surf pop group Tacocat, Stacey Peck from garage rockers Pony Time and Julia Shapiro the indie punk quartet Chastity Belt.
Unsurprisingly based in Seattle, Washington, the birthplace of Bikini Kill, 7 Year B**ch and Sleater-Kenny, Childbirth add to the home of riot grrrl with their feminist undertones. Despite being from narrowly different genre backgrounds – which influence the garage fuzz of “Will You Let The Dogs In?” and the surf beat of “Breast Coast (Hanging Out)”, the bands they arrive from unashamedly share an uncompromising taste for vulgar humour (Chastity Belt’s “Giant Vagina” and Tacocat’s “Crimson Wave” to name a few).
That two-fold purpose is to address the unsanitary realities of life timidly overlooked by other punk bands but offer it in a fun-spirited and easily digestible manner. Explicit tales arrive thinly-packaged in bite-sized quantities (unlike Julia Shapiro’s Chastity Belt) with only two songs on Childbirth’s debut album Women’s Rights reaching the three-minute mark. Furthermore this encapsulates the hyperactive and impulsive mentality of their sweaty live shows.
It’s the perfect time for Childbirth to exist. Arriving at an era where risqué comediennes such as Amy Schumer are gaining praise and popularity in United States, Childbirth exploit the opportunity to protest-rally-shout about anything associated with feminity with crass colloquial without gender-expectation limits. Whether it’s about competitive menstruation (“More Fertile Than You“), chic lesbianism (“Since When Are You Gay?“), the misconception that women are all perfectly scrubbed angels (“Nasty Grrls“), drugs (“Let’s Be Bad“) or internet dating (“Siri, Open Tinder“), it’s all delivered with a sarcastic humour that can be rather funny. Furthermore, Childbirth aren’t looking for feminist respect through a list a dignity rules, they embrace their moments of partying wildness even risking offense by calling their mother sluts in a backhanded compliment on “Cool Mom” and upsetting sensitive IT guys in “Tech Bro“.
The topical nature of their lyrics easily places them within the time frame of 2015. “Siri, Open Tinder” is so occupied with the terminology, the flakiness of the target audience and the process of the social media app that it’s almost an advertisement. It’s a great insight into the stereotypical categories of men that women swipe through and what makes them date-able – Childbirth already plays with the ridiculousness stereotype on their stock-image spoof promo photo. Additionally, “@Shapiro” is a reference to Twitter tags and also includes a Starbucks name-drop and “You’re Not My Real Dad” pokes fun at dim-witted daddy’s girls via a modern quasi-Californian accent.
There’s certainly room for improvement. The short time-restraints and indistinguishable underdeveloped melodies – aside from the “Let’s Be Bad” whispering and the B52’s-style dual call-and-answer on the unhygienic “Nasty Grrls” which have potential – make it hard to grasp on to, most of the songs and their messages aren’t always crystal clear; what is “Will You Let The Dogs In” about anyway, if not a play on the Baha Men guilty pleasure?
Like any album that pulls punches in many directions, it may not be for the weak-hearted. What’s certain is that the indifferent Childbirth – who once insulted an ex-lover on their EP by naming a song “I Only F**ked You As a Joke” doesn’t give a damn about outsider opinion. Childbirth’s Women’s Rights is out now via XXX, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Matt Hobbs