The Donnas, Bitchin’

Kristina Feliciano

By Kristina Feliciano

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Bitchin' may sound like the title of a Jack Johnson album, but these ain't no floppy-haired surfer-boy tunes. On their first release on their newly minted Purple Feather label, the Donnas are totally axing for it, adding '80s metal licks à la Van Halen and Def Leppard to their now-perfected rock & roll snarl and debauchery-championing, you-don't-own-me lyrics. (The band, which has been together since 1993, also sports a new logo, a silver design recalling vintage Judas Priest that bored schoolkids would be copying onto their loose-leaf notebooks during class if this were two decades earlier.) Bitchin' is party music meant to be shouted-out-loud, with the opener's surprisingly dark riffage giving way to anthemic tracks like “What Do I Have to Do,” “Here for the Party” and “Better Off Dancing.”

The Donnas’ now-perfected rock & roll is party music meant to be shouted-out-loud.

The disc's heavier sound suits the Donnas, whose last album, the sleek Gold Medal, seems to have been designed for girl-power movie soundtracks. There's a rawness to Bitchin' that recalls their self-titled 1998 debut, on which they came off as the Ramones'long-lost younger sisters. (The disc even sounds like it was recorded in the bathroom of CBGB.) But the new album is also smart and skintight — the work of a band that knows who they are and what they do well. So what if they're not reinventing the steel? Or, as eMusic member TFox wrote in a posting about the group's 2001 album, The Donnas Turn 21: “The Donnas are great in much the same way that Andrew WK is. They rock, and they rock hard and thoroughly, and if you want depth go cry into your Sigur Ros records.”