PUSSY RIOT RELEASES DEBUT MIXTAPE ‘MATRIARCHY NOW’

The Russian provocateur group known tastefully as Pussy Riot released their debut album last week on some pretty heavy premises. MATRIARCHY NOW, out now via Neon Gold Records, marks the 10 year anniversary of the group’s prison verdict for contending with Putin and his corrupt web of subsidiaries. Getting their start as a protest art collective is 2011, the powerful, woman-backed, feminist alt-pop musicians aren’t taking silence for an answer. 

Pussy Riot named TIME “100 Women of the Year” in 2012

MATRIARCHY NOW is filled with goading voices whose intention is both to provoke and lambast the people, norms, and systems of power that have come to define our modern malaise. The picture that Pussy Riot paints in MATRIARCHY NOW is an errantly apocalyptic one, brushstroked with the maximalism inherent to heavy electronic hyper pop. But nonetheless, Pussy Riot’s debut EP showcases a digestible sound, more in line with contemporary pop music––and probably more likely to be taken up by young listeners. 

A new artist is featured on each track, giving MATRIARCHY NOW the collaborative feel that one expects from protestation; most notably Tove Lo who produced the EP and appears on its second track “PUNISH.” Other features include Salem Ilese, ILOVEMAKONNEN, Phoebe Ryan, Mazie, Slayyyter, Big Freedia, and REI AMI & Kito.

I love matriarchy, and I think now is the best time to bring it on. Our rights are being attacked, and that’s just not cute.

––Nadya Tolokonnikova, NPR

Listen to MATRIARCHY NOW on Spotify

What good would a feminist album be without a classic trope inversion? A philosophical lampooning of the powers that be, perhaps not, but we’ll give Pussy Riot kudos for its hard-fought opener “PRINCESS CHARMING.” Pussy Riot’s vocals shine in a high-octave whisper––and here they will remain for the majority of the EP––juxtaposed against a simple, but effective (and quite catchy), electro-pop bass-line. On the whole MATRIARCHY NOW won’t stray too far from the sounds introduced on “PRINCESS CHARMING,” rendering the mixtape a bit flat and repetitive by the end. Nonetheless, the tracks are dance-worthy, memorable, fun, and cleverly-worded; all the makings of a solid pop drop. 

I got a big magic wand, and I use it all the time. Take this stupid fairytale and make it all mine. Going to change up the plot ’cause the slipper never fit. Won’t be slaying dragons, I could tame them, make them sit.

Pussy Riot, “PRINCESS CHARMING”

MATRIARCHY NOW’s fifth track “SUGARMOMMY” is a definite highlight. A backtrack infused with circus sounds––warped in the creepiest of ways––delivers big-time Purge vibes. Clearly Pussy Riot isn’t afraid of a little revolution. So too does “POOF BITCH” (ft. Big Freedia) pack a punch. At the intersection of hyper-pop and hardcore rap, “POOF BITCH” truly encapsulates the sounds of today’s youth. And it’s not short on a message either: “Alakazam, I (inaudible) blood on your hands. Cancel your plans. You ain’t walking over me. We got a plan.” Exactly who Pussy Riot is pointing fingers at isn’t entirely clear (perhaps the entire face of the western world), but whoever’s on the end of it might want to keep an eye out.

The Conversation sees Pussy Riot’s “aesthetic disobedience as Russian art”

Founded in 2011, Pussy Riot was originally a group of eleven or so women making provocative punk rock music in Moscow. Stakes gradually elevated as the group began staging unauthorized guerrilla gigs in public spaces. Their performances were taped and posted online as music videos, brimming with themes of LGBTQ+ rights, feminist upheaval, and, perhaps most perilously, opposition against President Vladamir Putin, his policies, and his links to the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.

As their outbursts simmered to a boil, Pussy Riot eventually staged its infamous performance inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21, 2012. A handful of the women were denied bail and sentenced to two years imprisonment for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” News of their case flew around the globe, gaining attention from criminal rights organizations who designated these women prisoners of conscience. 

After their groupmates’ release, Pussy Riot disseminated into a smaller, yet no less vocal, group. In 2016 they predicted Donald Trump’s presidential win with a viral music video that aired two weeks before the election. In describing the video, Rolling Stone noted that “jaunty, carefree music contrasts with the brutal events depicted on screen.”

“Make America Great Again” music video

Pussy Riot are currently performing live––and protesting––in locations around the country (see below for dates).  Recently, the group raised over $300k in protest and relief efforts, and are currently speaking out against abortion laws in the U.S. You can listen to more from Pussy Riot on Spotify and connect with them on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube

U.S. & Canada performances this year:

Thu 8.4 – San Francisco, CA – EP Release Show / Outside Lands Kickoff @ The Castro
Sun 8.7 – San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands Music +Arts Festival
Wed 8.10 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre (with REI AMI + special guests → tix here)
Fri 9.16 – Victoria, BC – Rifflandia Festival
Sun 9.18 – Las Vegas, NV – Life Is Beautiful Festival

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