Review by William Dibble
Punk rock has a long and storied tradition of political bands, messages, and stunts. The genre also has a long history of being a worldwide phenomenon, with punk bands springing up wherever rock music could be found. Barb Wire Dolls, from Greece, are no exception to those traditions. Founded in 2010, they have several EP’s out and have completed multiple tours. In 2015, on a tour of the United States, they were signed to Lemmy Kilmister’s label after he caught their live show. Fast-forward to now, and they have just released their second studio album a short week ago! Barb Wire Dolls are on tour right now with Vans Warped Tour in support of Rub My Mind.
Right from the onset, Rub My Mind grabs your attention. The cover is a bright black-and-red, with the singer front and center. It almost takes a few moments to realize there’s a barely-censored image behind her. The album begins in much the same way- a staccato march over the opening riffs. “Back in the USSA” is a catchy song that combines a catchy chorus with a powerful political message. Isis Queen’s voice is at once aggressive and sweet, roping you into a rousing punk rock anthem that sets the mood for the entire album. Barb Wire Dolls provides an excellent taste of things to come, with a song that combines grunge sound with punk rock attitude, rhythms, and lyrics. “If I Fall” is the next track, a romping song that will have you wanting to jump in time to the rhythm. With a prominent bass track, this track will have you drumming along with your fingers on whatever is nearby. For the most part, it is a moderately-paced song, but there are parts where the speed of the track really picks up. Track three, “Desert Song”, is a bit softer, starting with a riff that sounds almost sad. This song is much softer throughout, featuring slower drums and clean guitar. This is appropriate, as the song is pleading with someone not to let them down, as they “can’t live this way” because they’ve been down too long.
“Hole of Isolation” is another rousing punk track. While it is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it is one that will probably speak to many fans, seeming to speak out about loneliness and despair. After that is “Gold”, which starts off softly, but breaks into more traditional grunge beats very quickly. The song speaks about the value of life in a number of colorful metaphors and powerful statements, before fading into “Call Me”. “Call Me” is fun and different from many of the other songs. This song demands that some person contact her and explain what happened the night before. Alternating rapidly between a pleading and a shouting voice, this will certainly be a popular one along their tour. The next song, on the other hand, is a straight-up aural assault. With the declaration of “We Are Champions”, which is also the title of the song, it demands that the listener joins Barb Wire Dolls in the street in a riot. The drum-intensive “Edge of Innocence” is another thing altogether, reminiscent of the 90’s punk scenes, almost like a callback to 90’s Green Day. The bass track is pulsing and draws you in, before pushing you out to the next track, “Fade Away”. “Fade Away” starts off with a soft guitar that’s almost similar to Red Hot Chili Peppers, in a good way. It is similar to “Desert Song”, however, in that it remains soft throughout.
“Contract” is a straight-out accusation against the government and establishment. They leave the subject of the song up to you, but it is abundantly clear what they draw problem with. Isis Queen sings about issues like criminal actions, lies, and jailing laws. Where “Contract” is outright political, “Where Mountains Drink the Wine” is much more personal. This track is a very stop-and-go song, certain to get the crowd up and moving. “Fire to Burn” is the third slower, softer track on the album. This one features acoustic guitars, and really shows off the lower ranges of Isis’s singing. The chorus of the song reminds you that you can’t trust a cowboy, ending with the song as a repeated lyric. Rub My Mind closes with the powerful song, “Waiting to be Lost”, a track about losing and finding oneself, as well as the personal changes we all go through.
Many parts of Rub My Mind feel like callbacks to the 90’s punk rock movement. Despite being only their second album, Barb Wire Dolls displays a maturity of sound and songwriting that belies their age as a band. This is perhaps attributed to the fact they’ve actually been around for seven years, though. The mastering on their album is absolutely spectacular. Throughout their Warped Tour stint, I am certain that the songs off this album will be well received by fans. With Barb Wire Dolls and other bands, including some making a comeback, it is almost as if we are going through a punk renaissance this year, and one that promises to bring us more excellent music, if Rub My Mind is any indication.