This is art and politics and it’s energising and galvanising and utterly wonderful stuff. M(h)aol’s debut album has the power to break down walls and kick over statues; it needs to be put on school curriculums and broadcast from rooftops and vans; its lyrics need to be printed out and xeroxed and made into pamphlets and distributed on every street corner.
But, and here’s the crux, Attachment Styles is not preachy, it’s not poe-faced, it is shouty, but it’s a joyous emancipatory kind of shouty that gets you on your feet and makes you want to dance and have a good time and actually change things.
The album is specifically about social connection and queerness and healing and the title refers to the theory of attachment styles which explores the impact our inter-familial relationships and society have on how we relate to one another.
“With any kind of political music, you’re attempting to do your bit to create a better future and that’s exciting,” says lyricist and lead singer Róisín Nic Ghearailt. “It shows that you believe a better future is possible.”
Based between Dublin, Cork, Belfast, London and Bristol, the group’s line up is completed by Constance Keane, Jamie Hyland, Zoë Greenway and Sean Nolan and their feminist stance places them in the great lineage that stretches back to the blues women of the ‘20s, and takes in the ‘70s post punk of The Slits and The Raincoats, the ‘90s riot grrl of Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear and more recently the punk noise of Big Joanie.
With Hyland at the production controls, it was created in the DIY spirit and made to sound live, put down in a tiny room with no headphones, minimal drum mics, and only a PA for vocals.
It begins with Asking For It and ends with Period Sex, the former about the issues surrounding victim blaming rape culture: “I’ve heard what they say about girls like me/ I’m just the dumb bitch that left the party with you/ I was asking for it/ Was I asking for it?” Róisín’s spoken word is pinned to dissonance and squall to devastating effect. It’s a different more fierce version of the song to the one issued in 2021 to raise money for Women’s Aid.
The latter, meanwhile, tackles period shame - ridiculously still a very real thing - with humour and honesty: “Let’s have period sex/ It’s time to make a mess/ I know we’ve been told it’s nasty and disgusting/ But with my hormones this high I’m feeling quite lusty,” Róisín triumphantly declares.
In between are songs about misogyny and body autonomy and women’s basic safety, issues we shouldn’t need to be talking about but sadly still need to. Delivered with innovation and imagination, Attachment Styles is vital, exhilarating, and an essential listen.