The Donnas – Get Skintight – Review

The Donnas

Get Skintight (Lookout!)
by Scott Hefflon

America’s favorite teen rock band are back with 13 new originals and a cover. Get Skintight is a much broader record, and while it opens and closes with balls-out (um, excuse the gender specificity) rockers, there’re ballads here, some kinda AC/DC-oriented rock, and a lot of Kiss-influenced material.

While they may’ve taken some shit for being a “put together” band (yeah, like that’s never happened before – get over it, huh? What good is a true-blue rock band writing their own songs if those songs suck?), Get Skintight shows the diversity and dexterity of these yummy rockettes. And, to an extent, that’s what gets in the way of the record rockin’ your nuts off. Put it this way: AC/DC wrote some droning songs right? And how many Ramones songs (even a couple of the hits) sounded really apathetic and flat despite having a bouncy beat? And Kiss – how many completely overlookable songs have they written? Get it? By branching out, The Donnas have shown new strengths as well as new weaknesses.

The Donnas shine when they’re singing songs about having fun with their friends, hanging out, meeting guys, and eating. Not necessarily in that order. Yeah, that’s what teenage rock’n’roll is about, right? At least those are the activities we’re involved in when we have the radio turned up loud. And The Donnas are right up there with the Ramones when it comes to either making up lingo or using “hip” jargon to spice up the otherwise mundane suburban existence. And what teenage boy can resist these hot rockin’ mamas as they brattily list off what they wanna do to your cute ass when they get you alone? Without resorting to squealing or breathy sex appeal, Donna A. is sexy in her kinda inflectionless monologue. But while that blank expression worked for Joey Ramone (usually), it sometimes causes your attention to wander, distracted. When you listen to their Donnaized cover of Mötley Crüe’s sleaze classic “Too Fast For Love,” you realize the chick has an expressive voice, she just doesn’t write melodies that push her that way. There’re obviously more effects on her voice, but the response of “Well, I remember” and her attack on the chorus are definitely the best she’s ever sounded. A couple other things that become clear on the cover (and elsewhere) is that Donna R. has gotten much better on the guitar, yet Donna C. is still kinda lagging on the drums. But isn’t that accurate, historically? I seem to remember the Crüe’s original being kinda clunky, and Kim for The Muffs was insightful enough to point out that Kiss’ Peter Criss wasn’t exactly the world’s best drummer. And AC/DC? Hell, most of can’t remember the fucker’s name, much less be surprised he’s not in the Drummers Hall of Fame (if such a thing even exists).

So yeah, the cutie-pies have another record out, it’s got enough zip and girl-group sexiness to warrant owning, but I personally really miss the fast’n’furious crappy-sounding punky material of The Donnas (the Lookout! reissue of their first record with the 7″s – some of the most horribly recorded ditties you’ll ever love – tacked on the end). Not to get nostalgic, but The Donnas are about bratty punk paces, simple riffs, and chanting/shouting choruses about boys and stuff. If they start doing ballads, it’s only a matter of time before they start doing sucky cover albums like Joan Jett. I can remember how bummed I was when that punky rock queen lost her identity, and I’d hate to go through that again.
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