In debut album ‘Aldona’s Daughter’, Dublin-based, trans-fronted punk trio Stunt Lover (San Peric [bass, backup vocals] Al Soldati [drums] and Kaylee Bear [guitar, vocals]) have crafted an uncompromisingly sincere and intense document.
Sonically, Stunt Lover favour buzz-saw guitars and driving rhythms, topped off with Kaylee Bear’s impassioned howl; a trend set after a brief, dreamy intro on album opener Sledgehammers & Knitting Needles – a track buoyed by Soldati’s motorik drumbeat – and carried on in the straightforward, three-chord rocker follow-up SCAB.
This power trio are no one-trick ponies however, as on Fear of Falling we are treated to a spiralling bassline, layers of muffled guitars, drum loops and multi-tracked, filtered vocals; whereas SkyBelow is carried by ethereal synths and chorused guitars.
It is here that we get a real sense of how painfully frank Kaylee Bear can be as a lyricist, and it can be argued that her quieter vocal is even more powerful as she croons on that song’s second verse, her voice quivering to an acquaintance “Sometimes I thinking about what my father thinks of me / or the time your mother said, “this phase will pass naturally.” / My brother knows how to fight a war / doesn’t even know what a brother’s for / yours? I’ll never know who he is / is married, does he have kids”.
We see a more dangerous side to the band on revenge lamentation Apple Cider Vinegar, the song constantly building to a crunchy crescendo before giving way to fuzz bass lead verses before kicking into a blistering, empowering mantra “Get up, get posi it’s a beautiful day”, Kaylee Bear’s snarl showing more teeth than anywhere else on the album.
The band’s willingness to experiment with other styles is sometimes to the album’s detriment. Penultimate track Superstitious Girl sees the use of vocal manipulation and downbeat electronic loops, curtailing the momentum offered up by Apple Cider Vinegar, while – though admittedly a fun track – Love Letters From Strangers / Strange Letters From Lovers borrows a chord progression heard on too many garage/punk songs that have hit the airwaves over the years to name.
It’s fair to say that in a compositional sense, Stunt Lovers are not the most original band in the world but let it be known that there is enough variety and more than enough raw emotion and sonic variation on ‘Aldona’s Daughter’ to keep any listener engaged, and a strong case to be made for an under-represented group in society and in music.