By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
"Rock and Roll High School" is the Donnas' alma mater, but "Fuck School" is their anthem: The only thing these four gals ever studied was the history of three-chord punk--and most likely they skipped that class too, so they could smoke in the boys' room and drink behind the gym. Of course, you could go all the way back on the timeline--past Bikini Kill, past the Go-Go's, past the Runaways, all the way past Wanda Jackson--until you've landed in the blackboard jungle. When you get up to get down to it, theirs is a brand of juvenile-delinquent noise heard again and again ever since rock and roll wore diapers. Good for them...and so what? Get past the gimmick factor and novelty appeal--all four women go by the name Donna, and none is older than 20--and then ask yourself: Is this a retro ruse or The Real Thing? Probably a little of both, which keeps it interesting through a dozen listens, then renders it utterly disposable once you set it on the shelf.
Meaning: Every song sounds the same, more or less (except "Too Fast For Love," which somehow deepens the Mstley CrYe original's echoes). But this go-around, the gals invited Redd Kross' Jeff and Steve McDonald along for the ride (in the shag-carpeted van, no doubt, and don't come a-knockin') and ended up at a KISS concert. Meaning: The punk suddenly sounds more hair-metal, teased bigger and badder than anything found on American Teenage Rock N' Roll Machine or The Donnas. Meaning: Why aren't the Donnas opening for Great White and Ratt on their current Here Come the Dummies '99 tour? Maybe they're waiting for Gene Simmons to come calling.
And to think, the pre-release hype had it this was the record where the Donnas grow up, move out of the house, and start payin' taxes. Whatever, dude. "Skintight" finds the gals hangin' out at the 7-Eleven, trying to pick up some fine young stud standing by the Slurpee machine; "Hook it Up" documents what happens to dopers when the can of air freshener runs out; "Party Action" is what the girls crave when they catch some of yer fine-ass foosball moves; and in their bedrooms, they got "Cinderella on my TV / Video games killin' me / Posters of Ratt and Miami Vice / Doin' time with Ginger Spice." At its best, theirs is temper-tantrum rock, especially when boys they like won't like them back ("B-O-R-ing/Too bad you're not the boy for me," they sing in nyah-nyah unison). Somewhere, there's an eighth-grade girl writing the lyrics to "I Don't Like You Anyway" on the back of her Trapper Keeper, over and over. At its worst, this is the Runaways--but, like, with better songs. Seriously.
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