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When Amanda X plays shows, they are often put in a lineup with other bands featuring all women. Every time I’ve seen them live, they were joined by other female-fronted acts. Some fans, upon hearing that they are an all-girl act, will throw around terms like riot grrrl, and though riot grrrl is wonderful and there is nothing wrong with solidarity among female musicians, the band isn’t part of any particularly political movement. Indeed, on their debut LP Amnesia, out on Siltbreeze July 28th, Amanda X doesn’t take root in harsh – and sometimes abrasive – punk music in the same way riot grrrl acts did. Instead, they make a home somewhere between twee and punk – which leads to catchy, yet hard-hitting tracks.
There is a certain personal honesty in Amnesia. The Philly-based trio (no, none of them are named Amanda) has two songwriters and singers (Cat Park and Kat Bean), which makes for an interesting dynamic from track to track. They are candid enough to have lines like “I know, baby, you’re trouble, but for now I want you to stay,” or something as simple as “I feel so weird.” By the sounds of it, their writing process could lead to a depressing, bland, emotional album about breakups. Their pop sensibility, and some hard-hitting drum parts courtesy of Tiffany Yoon, saves them here.
Amnesia is more produced than their previous tracks and EPs, which makes the album’s sound less raw, but makes each song’s perfect pop structure stand out more. There are hooks, songs worthy of screaming along to, and earworm-worthy riffs, but there is never a point in Amnesia where the sound feels plastic or manufactured. Amanda X knows what they’re good at, and it’s always believable. In “Dream House,” the chorus is just a repetitive line, “My heart will break.” Instead of trailing off into a daze, the line only increases in a pulsing, booming intensity.
Instead of addressing anything political, the trio works primarily on the individual: the tracks on the LP revolve around individual crises, passions, and rejections, sung from the perspective of an “I” that rarely if ever implies a “we.” With the weighty politics we pin to most female-fronted acts, it’s nice to finally enjoy a record for its sonic qualities alone. In fact, the lack of gender politics in Amanda X’s music exposes the tired associations that most media outlets make when it comes to the discussion of women making and playing music. Why is it that every musical act featuring women needs to be asked about their ‘mission statement’ with regards to being women? When we consider riot grrrl’s influence on Amanda X, it isn’t wrong, but it’s certainly a marker of the limited boxes in which we place female-identified musicians.
Amnesia is not about a movement, but it’s poppy enough to get anyone moving. It’s being released digitally July 28th with a street date of August 5th. Listen to their track “Guatamala” below: