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Culture House Daily

Is Pussy Riot’s music actually any good?

25 February 2014

6:30 AM

25 February 2014

6:30 AM

Victims of state persecution, ambassadors for day-glo knitwear and wank fodder for beardy liberals the world over, the members of Pussy Riot have been filling both prison cells and column inches since 2012. In the process, they’ve also become one of the most famous bands on the planet. But let me ask you this – have you ever actually heard any of their music? And crucially, is it any good? Was it purely their politics that led the Cossacks to attack them with horsewhips last week, or is that just the way they do pop criticism in the Caucasus? We took to the internet to get some balanced and entirely un-facetious critical perspective.

‘Kropotkin Vodka’

As it turns out, they play rather fast and loose with the idea of being a punk rock group; the whole ‘music’ bit is pretty incidental. They’ve never actually released a record, but there are about half a dozen songs doing the rounds on YouTube.

It’s more or less as you’d expect: lots of shouting over the kind of dial-a-thrash that Top Shop might use to market a ‘rebellious’ hair-care product:

[Alt-Text]


‘Death to Prison, Freedom to Protest’

Laziness and caution prohibit a visit to Google Translate, so for all I know Pussy Riot might be pop’s answer to Pushkin.  But I suspect they aren’t. Whatever the case, you’ll agree from the delivery of bangers like Smert tyurme, svobodu protest that Russian really isn’t the language to rock in:

‘Putin Lights Up Fires’

It’s all very low-rent and DIY, a fair bit of it based around samples of records by wisely forgotten 70s new wave groups like the Cockney Rejects. At best, it’s charmingly crap (the songs are grouped together as a collection called Kill the Sexiest – cute), at worst, their music pulls off the unique feat of being both boring and extremely irritating. Imagine Alastair Darling producing a Limp Bizkit record and you’ve basically got the measure of it:

‘Punk Prayer’

The problem with Pussy Riot’s music is that it’s too polite. I felt genuinely let down when found I could take more than 30 seconds of their music without wincing in pain. As with any halfway ambitious punk group, the point is to offend. They’ve made great headway in this department with their Putin-baiting PR stunts, but their recorded output is a cop-out. If you’re really hell-bent on pissing off churchgoers, then fine. But a decent tune or two might work wonders:

With Putin and Medvedev bricking it over Ukraine and protests kicking off around the sentencing of pro-democracy activists in Moscow, let’s be clear: annoying they might be, but Pussy Riot are making a brave stand against censorship and repression. If nothing else, they give yet another reason for Russell Brand and his apathetic apparatchiks to sod off. But having typed all this, I can tell you I’m bloody happy I’ll never have to listen to their music again.

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