L7
Bricks Are Heavy


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (194 Reviews)
February 11th, 2015 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist


L7 were never really much of a riot grrrl band, no matter how many people tried to lump them into that category. Sure, their music had the same themes of female empowerment and sexuality, but the music is where things really differed. While they started with a more hardcore punk-tinged musical framework like their contemporaries, the 90s saw L7 enter a new phase with more metal and grunge influences. Suddenly, the band seemed closer to Alice in Chains and Melvins than they did to Bikini Kill or Bratmobile. Plus, let's face it: L7's focus was more on quality music than simply pushing a message to a male-dominated music scene... or at least there was more of a balance. These were ladies that not only clung closely to their feminist ideals, but made kickass albums in the process. Of course, their stage antics also played a part in their success during their 90s heyday. Guitarist/singer Donita Sparks was usually the main cause of the controversy, particularly in 1992; first she pulled down her pants during a performance on the British variety show The Word, and then she threw her tampon at the audience during the Reading Festival after the audience threw mud at the band. Her words were classic: "Eat my used tampon, fuckers!"

Needless to say, 1992 was the biggest year for this quartet. After the successful sophomore album Smell the Magic, L7 decided to make their sound heavier and more sludgy for their breakthrough record Bricks Are Heavy. Just as its popularity and acclaim might prove, this really is the band's finest recording; it has the best mixture of all the band's sounds and eras, as well as having the most diversity in its songwriting. Punk, heavy metal, and grunge are all given equal attention throughout, and so is every member for that matter. Just like with The Beatles or Queen, every member of L7 sings at some point on this album, three of the four members being featured prominently on lead vocals. This is, in part, why Bricks Are Heavy works so well... the band always feels like a single unit. The guitar/guitar/bass/drums setup is quite standard, but everybody gets a chance to shine. Plus, the lack of flashy instrumentation actually works to this band's advantage because of this tight chemistry.

Consistency is easily this album's biggest strength. From the tight riffing of the punk-influenced "Wargasm" to the off-kilter 9/8-time playing of closer "This Ain't Pleasure," everything is where it should be. Each member who sings is also the writer of her own respective song as well, each having her own vocal and songwriting quirks. My personal favorite is bassist Jennifer Finch; her songs "Everglade" and power ballad "One More Thing" are two of the most inspired tunes on this thing, particularly the former with its instantly mosh-worthy main riff. Of course, the song that people remember the most from Bricks Are Heavy is Donita Sparks' big hit "Pretend We're Dead." The song does provide a nice opportunity to relax after the one-two punch of "Wargasm" and "Scrap," this time focusing more on melody than outright heaviness.

Complementing all of this is a nice helping of tough and pissed-off vocals, definitely a more punk-inspired aspect of the band. Political issues ("Wargasm"), the aforementioned female empowerment ("Everglade," numerous others), freeloaders and lazy people (Suzi Gardner's anthem "Slide"), stress and anxiety ("One More Thing"), and other lyrical themes are addressed, all conveyed through very aggressive anthems that don't tend to hold these opinions back. But again, what makes it all work is how convincing the musicianship and songwriting are. No matter what side of each matter you sit on, you can always rely on the heavy and energetic musical accompaniments to keep the enjoyment going; this is certainly more than I can say of some of the riot grrrl bands I've heard. L7's presence and charisma on Bricks Are Heavy are very rare for the grunge movement they were part of, and make each song a treat... even if not every song completely works.

The only (somewhat) glaring problem is that the album may be a little too consistent. The music blends together occasionally, and the power chords and constant grungy distortion gets a bit old from time to time. But eventually this issue starts to leave you when you give the album repeated listens. Bricks Are Heavy has an enormous amount of replay value... not just for the little nuances that may have been missed the first time around, but for just the sheer enjoyment of the each riff, each of Demetra Plakas' inspired drum fills, each of Suzi's fun solos, and just the overall creativity of each tune. If you're even remotely interested in grunge, punk, or metal music, Bricks Are Heavy is almost essential. These angry no-nonsense babes are gonna kick your ass, but you'll want to keep getting back up and taking the punishment all over again.

Recommended Tracks:
---------------------------
-Everglade
-Wargasm
-One More Thing
-Pretend We're Dead
-Slide
-Scrap



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Necrotica
February 11th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

heya

ArsMoriendi
February 11th 2015


8390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great album. Hungry for Stink is the best though.



Yay L7.



Also, pos'd because it's a good review.

Digging: Stevie Wonder - Hotter Than July

NocteDominum
February 11th 2015


7218 Comments


Hey B-dog!

Long time.

PsychicChris
February 11th 2015


231 Comments


One of these days, I'll give this band a shot. I always hear good things.

Necrotica
February 11th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Ars: Yeah dude, the first four albums by L7 are fantastic... I'm so glad I got into them :] I wanna give their first album a review too since it doesn't have one yet



@Nocte: Yeah man, how's it been?

ArsMoriendi
February 11th 2015


8390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Necro: You don't like their 5th one? (And yeah their 6th one is terrible, I wrote a 2.0 review for it haha.)

Necrotica
February 11th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The 5th one's good too, but I didn't like it as much as the first 4. Still gave it a 3.5, but the lack of Jennifer (since she left of course) is kinda unfortunate :[ She's my favorite member of the band

Supercoolguy64
February 11th 2015


5508 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great rev mang



Digging: Death - Human

Necrotica
February 11th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, dude! I'm trying to space out my reviews more these days so I can keep things fresh

TalonsOfFire
February 11th 2015


13146 Comments


When we preteeeeend that we're deeeaaad

Necrotica
February 11th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They can't hear aaaaa word we saaaaaiiid

sheelanagig
February 12th 2015


47 Comments


Just in case, someone didn't get the memo:

"On December 10, 2014, L7 announced, on their official Facebook page, that they would be reuniting, featuring Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch and Demetra Plakas.[8] As part of the reunion, the band revamped their website and included a mailing list for fans.

A documentary is being made about the band and is being funded through KickStarter. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/975436123/l7-pretend-were-dead

ZackSh33
February 12th 2015


472 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

When we preteeeeend that we're deeeaaad [2]



(pre-tend that we're ded)

Supercoolguy64
February 12th 2015


5508 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh shit l7 reunion shweeet

Necrotica
February 12th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

:]

ArsMoriendi
February 12th 2015


8390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Dude, that sounds sick.^ :o





Muisc4Life26
February 12th 2015


3153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wargasm slays

Necrotica
February 12th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hellyeah, a great opener for sure

Necrotica
February 14th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just put up my personal track recommendations for anyone who wants to check this out

Necrotica
March 18th 2015


10584 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Still such a good album



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