‘Blouse Club’ is the debut album from Feminist punks Problem Patterns. When I heard that this band had been hotly tipped by my idol Kathleen Hanna, I just knew I would have to check them out. Getting praise from the Queen of Riot Grrrl is high praise indeed. Problem Patterns have also recently supported the amazing Dream Wife on the Irish leg of their tour, cementing their grrrl credentials even more.
The band formed in 2018, after meeting each other when working in a cafe. They had conversations about previous musical projects they had been, and had a desire to create something new together. It took some time before they eventually came together, but what spurred them on was their collective anger over a high profile rape case in Belfast. Problem Patterns released their debut EP ‘Good For You, Aren’t you Great?’ in July 2019.
What makes Problem Patterns even more interesting is their approach to performing. There is no front person, and no assigned ‘roles’. Instead the four members of the band often swap roles, not just changing up the vocals, but even swapping instruments. “We made a conscious decision to remove the traditional format of having a front person, as we wanted everyone to have a voice,” explains member Alanah of their unique line up. “A few of us wanted to be ‘lead vocalist’ originally and then we decided it would be way more fun for all of us if we just swapped roles. It also keeps things more interesting, especially if someone picks up an instrument they’re not as accustomed to. It keeps us constantly learning and trying to better ourselves. We all have very different backgrounds and experiences, and we think it’s vital to the band that everybody is able to express themselves equally.”
The album itself has a true punk spirit, not only in sound but lyrically. There are echoes of an X Ray Spex influence musically, and maybe Riot Grrrl in spirit. ‘Terfs Out’ is a song calling out Transphobia with lyrics like- “feminism is for every body, not just the ones you feel comfortable with” and “Standing with your opresssors won’t make you more free.” The song ‘Y.A.W’ calls out sexist men and rape culture-
“He gets his kicks looking for another reason to fight, But he can’t understand why I walk home at night With my keys in between my fingers like knives But sure it’s just a bit of banter for all the guys.”
The Torys also get taken down in ‘Who do we not save?” a song about Tory funding policy and their attempts to privatise the NHS. Sexuality is covered in ‘Lesbo 3000’ – ‘call me a dyke I’ll wear with a pride’. One of my personal favourite songs on the album is ‘Picture of Health’ which perfectly conveys the battle with negative body image so many go through ‘I want my body back But not in the way that you think that I might mean ,by that I mean I don’t wanna be mean anymore, Despite the ways I tell myself I am flawed.”
Problem Patterns have a headlining date on 17th November, at The Sebright Arms, London
Article by Hayley Foster da Silva
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