Currently signed to Motörhead Music, Greek all-female punk band Barb Wire Dolls are likely to be unfairly compared to Girlschool just based on the Lemmy connection – he took the band under his wing prior to his death – but the Dolls actually several prior releases out dating back to 2010. The recently released Desperate is their first for Motörhead Music but third full-length overall, so these gals aren't exactly upstarts at this point.
Think, then, a continuum between 70's almost-punk like the Runaways on one end and 90's riot grrl acts like L7 and Bikini Kill on the other, and Barb Wire Dolls occupy a vacillating point somewhere in the middle. Isis Queen's vocals provide the clearest link to the riot grrl stuff, while the music itself is a little too simplistic and unadventurous to compare with riot grrl punk. And politically this band will never be mistaken for Pussy Riot… this is the kind of punk rock that's just abrasive enough to qualify as such while stopping well short of getting too snotty or confrontational.
"Drown" is milder than anything on the band's last album, 2012's Slit, but it's also catchier than anything on that disc. "Take Me Home" isn't as good but has a cool stun guitar riff that's fun enough. This new sense of melodic ease helps assuage the cookie cutter version of unwashed punk rock Barb Wire Dolls emerged from, but tunes like "Heart Attack" still find the band regressing into the kind of two- and three-chord punk that requires hooks this band simply doesn't have.
What we have then is a synthesis that, in splitting the difference between genuinely edgy and commercially campy, splits the difference to inevitably mediocre effect, agreeable enough but never really deeply satisfying to any given fan base, let alone successfully bridging the gulf between hard-edged punk fans and melodic garage rock enthusiasts. Hardly a failed effort or anything, but there are any number of bands in a similar milieu that make Barb Wire Dolls look positively tame by comparison.
PS: Motörhead Music will apparently continue operations under the aegis of Lemmy's longtime manager, Todd Singerman.Albums by Budderside and Others will follow later in the year.