No Album Left Behind: DIY Sluts' Everlasting Itch

These lo-fi rockers are dismantling the patriarchy, one punk song at a time

Music Reviews DIY Sluts
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No Album Left Behind: DIY Sluts' <i>Everlasting Itch</i>

Over the course of 2019, Paste has reviewed about 300 albums. Yet, hundreds—if not thousands—of albums have slipped through the cracks. This December, we’re delighted to launch a new series called No Album Left Behind, in which our core team of critics reviews some of their favorite records we may have missed the first time around, looking back at some of the best overlooked releases of 2019.

Picture this: It’s the year of our Lord 2019 and you have a band. Not a sound financial choice, but a spiritually enriching one (and let’s face it, no one under the age of 40 has a chance in hell at actually retiring ever, so fuck it). Sure, you may only have 179 likes on Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg’s propaganda site is just a boomer orgy these days. And yeah, you have less than 1,000 Instagram followers, but you never claimed to be an influencer. Your cause is far nobler than pushing some weird diet pills and other sponcon: You’re a trio of Portland, Oregon artists singing about masturbation, U.T.I.s and Moby Dick. You’re a band called DIY Sluts.

The punk threepiece, made up of Andrea (guitar, lead vocals), Jules (bass, vocals) and Kris (drums, vocals), released their second album Everlasting Itch this summer, a slap-happy mix of the familiar and their own goofy creativity. “Riot grrrl” is rightly called out as a tired label applied to any fiery female-led group, but it is more than apt here. DIY Sluts have the same lo-fi looseness of Bratmobile in their surfy guitar and impassioned yell-singing, mixing in touches of more contemporary Pacific Northwest punks, including CHILDBIRTH. Like that Seattle band, DIY Sluts have a tongue-in-cheek attitude that makes their observations on sexuality and criticisms of society more than biting—they’re also just really, really fun.

Most of the songs come across as X-rated, class-conscious versions of playground chants. An angular, menacing guitar greets us on opener “General Strike,” which sees the trio declare their hatred of dads and scabs and—worst of all—scab dads. “Volcel Slut” features an unconventional twist on female desire, exploring the strange territory many women occupy nowadays where they are more sexually empowered than in the past but also—understandably—don’t want to hook up with men. Instead, the band members shout out all of the different types of porn they prefer to a dude’s company (“Joke’s on you / I won’t even let you touch my boob”). The title itself winkingly references “incels” (involuntary celibates, a label often used by toxic misogynists but actually coined by a woman unrelated to their cause), but acknowledges that they’re choosing to avoid sex. Even the band’s name is a joke about masturbation; they’re self-indulgent by nature.

Among their lamentations about “living in a hell world” and fuck boys (“Fiscal conservative but down with the gays,” from the song “Fuckboy,” describes far too many young men) is also a vision of what a world ruled by sluts would look like. “Slut City” sets the scene over jangly guitar: a utopia free of prisons and borders, but full of horses and universal healthcare. The band is by no means made up of defeatists.

The best song of the album also happens to be its last: “Kate’s A Quitter,” a song that’s punchier and sillier and somehow more personal than any of their songs about masturbating, sees the trio rail against their former bandmate’s decision to go to law school in New York. After yelling about how New York pizza sucks (agree to disagree), they admit “I’m not happy for her / I’m deeply sad.”

If Everlasting Itch does leave something to be desired, it’s in its production: Their anti-establishment messages would go down just as easily with a slightly cleaner sound. However, as a punk band, lo-fi quality comes with the territory, so it’s an easy sin to forgive.

As another election year approaches, climate change threatens our very existence and global fascism is on the rise, we are all looking for a superhero to save the day. We just didn’t realize they would appear in the form of three unabashed Pacific Northwest punks, ready to eat the rich and rid the world of every last fuckboy over frenzied guitar and shouted lyrics.