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The Donnas Turn 21
4,399 out of 10,000

Is this anything the young ladies listen to? My bet is a heap of Donnas' album sales go to old men like myself who get off on young girls singing hard rock. Poor old men, this won't do much for you. Maybe The Donnas had an edge on their first album American Teenage Rock-N-Roll Machine or Skintight. I'll never know, because I'll never get another Donnas record again.

I'd wondered what the deal was with the Donnas. A friend dismissed them as girls trying to be the Ramones. That didn't seem like much of a dissuader, so when I saw the album cover in the new releases I was intrigued. I especially liked the album cover showing some of the toughest, dirtiest girls to sit at

a table in a bar. Surely some fun, emancipated party music must be inside, I thought.

Well, it's emancipated, I guess. Too bad the bargain bin version didn't have a cover, because that's the best part. I told myself that was why the CD went for $3.99. No.

There’s something very rudimentary in the wrong way about the Donnas. It’s the opposite of Punk; it’s basic in a predictable way. Each couplet rhymes obviously, with a color-by-numbers sense of songwriting. The band plays stripped down stupid rock because they think that’s how it’s supposed to sound, not because they love rock and will play it, whatever their limitations.

The limitations are few, but crucial. The tempos are brisk without being terribly energetic though it the energy does pick up towards the end, especially on their cover of Judas Priest’s “Livin’ After Midnight”. The back up vocals feel chanted instead of shouted, though they go in the “correct” for a hard rock song. The chunky guitars sound rectangular.

Most importantly, singer Donna A’s voice is dead, without range or inflection. She sounds like the drunk girl on the couch, bragging robotically about how bad she is, as she drifts ever nearer to passing out. The songs are mostly sexual braggadocio that suggests these girls are an easy lay but a lousy hump.

“Forty Boys in Forty Nights” is about sleeping with a lot of boys. “Midnight Snack” compares a boy to a midnight snack. There’s nothing much clever about it. Cinderella did this sort of thing better. “Drivin’ Through My Heart” with its tale of being dumped “at the Mini Mart” has some of the cleverer lyrics, but is better on the truncated bonus track at the end.

The Donnas aren’t good enough. They're not hard enough. They're not dumb enough. They're certainly not smart enough. They’re not innovative at all, and they don’t emulate their obvious influences well enough. They’re not loud enough. They’re not dynamic enough. They’re not happy or angry enough. They're not dirty enough. They’re not drunk enough. And at 21, they’re no longer young enough.




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