There is nothing coy about Flint-based Cheerleader’s first full-length album, Bitchcraft. It is a riotous collection of defiant anti-apologies, that if delivered in any way other than Cheerleader’s impenetrable assault, would reinforce the very holding back they’re fighting against. Bitchcraft is the ultimate “fuck you” manifesto aimed to destroy, disarm, and devour the state of counterrevolution. Fully equipped with an advanced artillery of punk purism and unflinching feminism, Bitchcraft doesn’t knock. It grants itself permission.
The power of Christina “Polly” McCollum (lead vocals, guitar), Ashley MacDermaid (bass), and Nisa Seal (drums) is not contingent on image, labels or accessibility, rather their undeniable cohesion in being able to tear down the construct and crippling societal misogyny without compromising sincerity. The album opens with a shrill “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, HUH? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” which feels more like a dare than a question. The words bleed into the opening track “Beauty Queen” where McCollum delivers the first of many deafening blows with repeating the lines “I am more than my body.” Although the album clocks in just over 23 minutes, don’t mistaken its brevity for a shortcut. Quite the contrary. Cheerleader is free of filler or watery withdrawals, saying what needs to be said without finding polite euphemisms to spare feelings. Closing out the track “Friday Night Bites” during an Addams Family worthy bass line, McCollum exclaims: “No one cared about you then/no one cares about you now,” a testament to that one thing we have always wanted to say to that person we’ve always wanted to say it to. That’s the beauty of the anti-beauty of Cheerleader’s debut album. They have found a way to inspire without the squishy connotation.
To say this is an important record for women is like saying it’s wet when it rains. The overarching message of reprisal through rebellion and tenacity channeled by audacity is what, when conjoined with their tightly woven, Bikini Kill sludge, elevates Bitchcraft from an argument to an uprising.
Listen to Bitchcraft in its entirety here and check out the track “Beauty Queen” below: