Since the start of the 2010s there’s been a further slide of rock music into an irrelevancy abyss. And there’s been plenty written about it and the timeframe might be much wider than that. Awards shows have increasingly given less of a spotlight to rock artists. Rock albums don’t shift the same kind of units they once did. And they generally don’t get the same kind of plaudits from critics they once did.
And if there are outliers, those that still sell “well enough” (whatever the hell that means) and continue to receive high praise, it’s female rock artists (in particular) that are at the forefront. The best rock album of 2015 either belongs to Colleen Green, Courtney Barnett, Sleater-Kinney or Waxahatchee. This year the women from Savages continued their mesmerizing assault on every dominant power structure. Mitski elucidated the double bind of being female and foreign. Polly Jean Harvey returned to stunningly document decay in the nation’s capital. Frankie Cosmos adeptly hit on millennial existential fear. And Angel Olsen was, well, as good as anyone in any genre this year. If rock is in ruins, it’s ladies such as these who keep it from complete collapse.
While Portland’s bed. isn’t quite up to code with those aforementioned artists, they’ve crafted a rock-solid blueprint with “Girl.” Right away, with a gristly bass and chiming guitar, they pointedly do away with the suffocating possessiveness of being somebody’s “girl”: “Girl, you’re nobody’s girl.” So it goes throughout. The idea of dependence is about as dead as much of mainstream rock is. The way forward isn’t through fealty to the way things have been. It’s through strength, even quiet strength, just the sort that bed. so masterfully capture here.