The Fashionistas: “Thumble”

DNRC045 | LP | 2004 | DELETED

While ex-drummer Peachy Keen was busy recording her solo album, the rest of the band known to the world as The Fashionistas were busy extracting themselves from an odious record contract with Pixel Mouse’s uber-grrl label Mice. Finally, in late 2004, having released three electrifying singles on the label (ostensibly devoted to fostering youth centre types with a penchant for the fringeline of Kathleen Hanna, but in actual fact a barely disguised front for a campaign to release hate songs about Mouse’s former lover Stung) the writing became legible on the wall, and the words read: “Thumble”. This difficult and obscure release was deemed unplayable by Pixel Mouse at the time, mostly due to the fact that it was originally recorded in picture disc format. The ensuing court battle leading to the severing of the Fasionistas’ contract with Mice would provide ample fodder for later Fashionistas releases but on “Thumble” we hear, as if for the first time, four girls getting their shit together enough to switch off their Bikini Kill compilations and start tuning up. The results, especially opening track “Wha”, recall the sunny, blissed out sounds of Sun Ra, and coupled with random sounds of cash registers opening (often between verses), the whole piece offers a seamless document of a day in the life of a modern day urban girl studying interior design at an unspecified polytechnic college. Moody, bitchin’ and crawling with abstract ideals, “Thumble” (a reference, apparently, to an obscure Middle German masturbatory tool) delivers on the promise of those early singles, all of which are included here: “Don’t Hot”, “Save” and “Quick, Un-Pick!” are more than matched by the songs interspersed between them, although things do get a little dirgy on the flip-side, where the atonal grout of “Ham Fist” rubs unpleasantly against the thigh of “Don’t Speak When Your Mouth’s Full”. Still, as far as debut albums go, this one’s a rabbit killer and despite her solo success, one imagines Peachy Keen seething upon hearing the ferocity of stand-in drummer Penelope’s skins work. A brave album from an even braver bunch playing Mouseketeers with the pulse of their deep-fried generation.

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