Le Butcherettes’ newest effort bi/MENTAL feels like one of those records a listener can lose themselves in, playing it over and over and finding new details in the music they missed on previous listens. As most any seasoned music aficionado will eagerly admit, that’s a thrilling experience to stumble upon. The sonically hard to classify but definitely biting punk band maintain their core identity as artists going into this new record, but at the same time, they more fully explore some ideas that previously might have only hung around the edges.
Vocalist Teri Suarez — who goes by the stage name Teri Gender Bender — holds the record together with her prominent and truly dynamic vocal work, but the intrigue doesn’t end there. The musicians beside her — including Marfred and Riko Rodriguez-Lopez and Alejandra Robles-Luna — form their own unique passageway into the undergrowth of at once familiar and strange human emotion that Suarez explores in her lyrics. There’s an inherent tension that binds the music (and the lyrics) together, as the record explores some of what it’s like to be truly and tangibly uprooted from your family in more ways than one.
Throughout the effort, in a welcome feature, Suarez stays personal with her lyrical presentation instead of offering up vague platitudes that don’t really mean anything. It’s easy to tell that everyone involved here has a true personal stake in what they’re presenting, which allows for a more enriching experience for the listener. Besides the literal meanings of her lyrics, Suarez’s vocal work that jumps around the register contributes tremendously to the memorably angst-driven feel that permeates the record, as does the particular style of music her bandmates play. They don’t sound concerned with hitting a particular technical high point just for the hell of it but in the structure and presentation of the music itself feel like they’re telling a real story.
There’s a nagging tension throughout bi/MENTAL reflected even in the album and song titles themselves. It sounds like the record of the person who’s successfully made their goals reality but sits at home at night and questions a void sparked by some real tangible turmoil. In the midst of that broad subject matter, Le Butcherettes have firmly rooted their latest songs in their own personal perspectives, coloring in some of the gaps left when tackling the topic elsewhere and ultimately, crafting a testament to individuality — faults and all.
bi/MENTAL releases February 1 on Rise Records — the band’s newest label.
Check out a single: