July 28, 2016

LP: Dyke Drama - Up Against the Bricks

Dyke Drama's Up Against the Bricks at its core is a rock record with two faces.

On last year’s heavily underrated Tender Resignation, musician Sadie Switchblade gave us a peek into the intimate daily struggles of her own life, with gut-punching lines like, “Take a bath for an hour and a half / Tuck it back, close your eyes / Can't a girl fantasize?” and “Seven years in the gutter, seven years blacked out on the floor.” This year’s surprise summer pipe bomb, Up Against the Bricks, reads like an explosion of pent-up regret, contemplation and passion — a long awaited make-out session with your oldest crush. Whereas Tender Resignation concerned the tempting isolation of wanting to spend the rest of your days locked away in your room, Up Against The Bricks is the newfound trauma that ensues when you finally open the door and step outside.

Dyke Drama revels in the influences of its predecessors: the punkish blue collar hootenanny of The Replacements; the americana open highway of The Hold Steady; the honest, rain-drenched stadium passion of a four-hour Springsteen show. All, funny enough, heavily male-centered areas, but Sadie Switchblade queers these genres with gleeful talent and reckless abandon. “Rolling Tears” features Sadie as the heartbreaker for a change, attempting to break things off with a "handsome boy" by letting him down easy (and failing). She admits, “I didn't mean to hurt you / but what are intentions worth / when the tears start rolling down your face?” as the two “fuck and fight,” caught between the walls of her desire and convictions. The anthemic “You Can’t Count on Me” is a blatant critique of Sadie’s outsider status in the music scene, as she outlines to the major labels how her own erratic chaos renders her unsignable, but more human than they will ever be. The album’s title track is a marriage of chase and thrill, living “like a fugitive who outruns her crime” but feeling unfulfilled when actually getting away with it. She finds that there is a resigned pleasure in always feeling challenged, always on the run, pleading: “Push me up against the bricks / Grab my skull and kiss my lips” as time closes in on her. “Cis Girls” is a long-awaited, sprawling vitriol against trans-exclusive feminist circles and the dangerous effects they’ve had on perpetuating exclusive identity politics. Sadie outclasses her worst critics by remaining playful, choosing to combat transmisogyny by crafting one of the catchiest (and queerest) summer jams in recent memory. Her afterthought status by her peers is heavily critiqued, her bittersweet tokenized identity on brazen display.

Up Against the Bricks at its core is a rock record with two faces: the sharpened, war-torn fangs you bare when you feel you have nothing left to lose; and the song you can’t stop humming as you speed down the highway towards the beach with your friends in the backseat. Sadie hopes you learn to live with both.


Listen to Dyke Drama on bandcamp.

June Amelia Cahill is the founder of Sundress Records and as well as a performing musician. She's the editor of both Free Pizza For Life and Tour Sucks for Plan-It-X Records. She's currently in the process of learning why girls just wanna have fun.