May 8, 2017

EP: Beautiful Woman - Hot Mess

Beautiful Woman embraces the weirdo teen dream on their first EP.

On June 1, 2006, a video entitled “The emo song” was uploaded to YouTube, crediting two people named Adam and Andrew. The song was an upbeat parody of a particular cross section of music and fashion trends that is still fondly known as “emo” or “scene.” Eleven years later, the aesthetics of “The emo song” are alive and well in the halls of at least one Massachusetts high school. Kevin and Milo are the duo behind the Boston-based musical act Beautiful Woman. “The emo song” may have been a parody serving only to poke fun at a cultural phenomenon, but it touched on many themes of the mid-00s emo zeitgeist, specifically the goth-adjacent fashion and flexible gender expression. Beautiful Woman does exactly that on their debut release Hot Mess, which serves as an earnest snapshot of what it's like to be a weird, promiscuous young gay specifically in Boston, with lots of mentions of typical local spots (Taco Bell, Burger King, Hot Topic.. you know, typical Friday night hang outs).

Some songs on Hot Mess are more melodic, while others border on spoken-word pieces that sound like poetry scribbled in the margins of someone's class notes. In fact, listening to this five-track album is a quick and dirty experience comparable to flipping through a notebook that was left behind in class, only to discover that it belongs to the quiet kid with a lip ring and anime-character haircut. The opening track, “Taco Belles,” is made up of six rhyming couplets. The song’s style and sinister tale resembles that of a limerick, starting off with a “scene” girl’s trip to Taco Bell (whom, the pair laments, someday will “love herself”), and ending with a man dead in the parking lot. Most songs are composed of two chords on the guitar or keyboard, a kind of beat that makes you want to rock from side to side, or bob your head back and forth. Next up is their longest song “Celibacy,” clocking in at just two minutes and ten seconds. This is Milo’s power ballad, a sex-positive anthem for the sex-negative, underscored by ambient keyboard tones. A cheeky jab at abstinence-only sex education and religion in general, this song has an incredibly catchy refrain: “c-e-l-i-b-a-t-e / You’ll never put your dick in me / I’m not looking for a man / Unless he follows god’s plan.” The final verse is a reminder that everybody has bodily autonomy, no matter what beliefs they practice: “But real talk, hotties / I love the life I live / Do whatever you want with your body / And we will be supportive.” The overall tone of this song makes it sound like it belongs in a campy theater musical about drag queens.

The next two songs are like poems set to music, with Kevin’s punchy, rhyme-focused lines remaining in sync with her guitar strumming. “i luV eM0 boiz i lUv b0iZ Em0” starts off as an innocuous, seemingly true story of queer-meets-emo, meeting at the “Brookline Stop and Shop” and going on dates at other Boston landmarks such as Papa Ginos. But just like Milo’s wildly expressive lines in “Celibacy,” Kevin doesn’t hold back on the graphic details with verses like: “You sketch my pussy in art class / It turns your teachers on / You finger me like you’re smart / Thank god you’re not like Sean.” “LmL” is a testament to being disillusioned with high school, being a freak, and quite literally just, living your life. Kevin’s words are gospel: “I wear my waist trainer to Friendly’s / I have never signed a lease / I wear ripped fishnet tights / To go to the park and fly some kites.“ Their cover of Black Flag’s "Nervous Breakdown," an already straightforward song about releasing pent up anger and frustration, goes even deeper in Beautiful Woman’s incarnation with a modified chorus: “Cause I’m crazy and I’m hurt / Head on my shoulders / Is going to FLIRT.” And again, they preach the freedom of expression while squeezing in some more sex-positive rhetoric: “I don't care what you fucking wear / I don't care who you fucking fuck / I don't care about anything / I just wanna get some dick.” Milo mimics Keith Morris’s vocals to a T, adding some much-needed flair to the 1979 classic. Old trends die hard. Some never die at all. The term “freak” can be interpreted in many different ways. Beautiful Woman teaches us that though there are many facets to being one, the most important part of being a freak is embracing it.


Listen to Beautiful Woman on bandcamp.


Alyssa Rorke is a Philly-based writer/artist/musician/barista. Find her daily musings on Twitter @poetrygirl420.