November 11, 2004

The Donnas

Print More

It happens to the best of us. Actually, it happens to all of us. Michelle Tanner is no longer the morally upstanding toddler we all once knew and loved, who captured our hearts as she solemnly warned “You’re in big trouble, Mister.” Jessie Spano, feminist and environmentalist, has sure stripped down (sorry, had to do it) from her role as Bayside High’s resident ethicist and finally surrendered to the carnal urges of the men she once wrote off as “pigs.” As it turns out, no one is immune to the merciless laws of aging — not our childhood icons, and certainly not The Donnas.

In eighth grade, while the rest of us were busy getting out braces adjusted and experimenting with the strange and scary world known as “first base,” The Donnas were already penning racy and raucous Ramone’s inspired pop-punk tunes. Indeed, The Donnas were infectious. Their songs were raw yet catchy, rarely exceeding the punk gold-standard of two minutes. Their guitar riffs were brazen, lending themselves perfectly to the sacred art of air guitar. They immortalized their infatuation with inhalants in 1997’s “Huff all Night.” They boozed with a fervor that would have shamed Ben Affleck at a bachelor’s party. They bragged about their anonymous sexual conquests, confessing “I come into town and have a look around / And then I find a guy who wants to get down,” in the biblically inspired “40 Boys in 40 Nights.” And best of all, they didn’t apologize for any of it.

But then the inevitable happened. The Donnas grew up, and it seems as though they have celebrated their twenty-fifth birthdays with a couple rounds of horse tranquilizers. On Gold Medal, The Donnas’ sixth release, the girls are barely recognizable. Gone are the angry riffs, the sassy punch lines and the “put out or get out” mantra that has dominated their career until now. This time around, the guitar stylings are more drawn-out, sounding less like The Ramones and more like a band named after a geographic location (Boston or Kansas amongst others.). Lead singer Brett Anderson actually sings instead of wails. And Lyrically, Gold Medal takes on a more introspective, “Dear Diary” tone. To be sure, boys and booze still reign supreme, but suddenly the party has gone sour, and their songs are treated with a “maybe we’re getting too old for this” tone, as seen on such tracks as “It’s So Hard” (It’s so hard to be on your own / When you’re working it all alone). At their best, their newfound lyrical vulnerability is an impressive and refreshing change from the long lost days of getting bombed and banging dudes. But other times, the lyrics are just plain, well, bad. Case in point: “Don’t break me, don’t break me down / Can’t you see my hands on the ground?” Despite the album’s shortcomings, however, Gold Medal has established The Donnas as a musically capable group, as opposed to a mere gimmick. And with Gold Medal it is finally clear that The Donnas are not a novelty — they are a rock n’ roll band, and their fifteen minutes are far from over.

Archived article by Talia Ron
Sun Staff Writer