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Barb Wire Dolls - Desperate album review

Life’s a bleach with these Lemmy-endorsed nostalgists' new album

Barb Wire Dolls Desperate album cover

Formed on the island of Crete before relocating to LA, where they signed with Motörhead’s label and management, Barb Wire Dolls are a punky female-fronted band who sound like they’ve just woken up in 2016 after being cryogenically frozen in the CBGBs toilets sometime around 1978, Austin Powers style.

They recorded their ragged debut Slit with Steve Albini in just two days, but this second album sounds more polished and more authentically new wave, from the half-submerged reggae-rock dynamics of Surreal to the slamdancing punk-legend tribute Darby Crash.

Channelling the spirit of early Blondie, as well as more cultish UK acts like Penetration and The Photos, their classically bleach-blonde singer Isis Queen strikes a mostly agreeable balance between sexy-dangerous yowling and emotionally raw introspection, most notably on the sullen title track. Overall, these dolls are trashy fun, albeit slightly too limited by their riff-slamming retro-rock reference points.

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Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.