Pom Pom Squad: Demise of a Cheerleader Album Assessment

In 1999, a satirical comedy film named But I’m a Cheerleader proposed an astonishing direct…

In 1999, a satirical comedy film named But I’m a Cheerleader proposed an astonishing direct character: a cheerleader who isn’t very like the other ladies on her staff. She will get whisked absent to a hilariously straight-laced conversion-therapy camp on the suspicion that she might be—gasp—gay. “I’m a cheerleader!” she whines in hesitation, as if this would make it impossible to drop outside societal norms. The movie marked a memorable early instance of the divergent cheerleader, an ever more common trope that drives the creative mind of 23-year-aged singer-songwriter Mia Berrin, who tends to make bratty grunge-punk as Pom Pom Squad. On her debut, Demise of a Cheerleader, the New York musician stakes her declare to pleated miniskirt canon, joining the ranks of individuals who’ve weaponized cheer imagery to disrupt conference.

Cribbing its title from one more motion picture about a well-known substantial faculty girl with a solution, Death of a Cheerleader marks a interval of self-acceptance for Berrin. The album arrived about partly as a reckoning with her personal queerness, as nicely as with her multiracial id, which she didn’t see represented in the indie rock world: “Rock was invented by a Black queer woman—Sister Rosetta Tharpe—but I grew up feeling like I was odd for loving guitar-based music,” she points out in press resources. Self-created alongside Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, Demise of a Cheerleader is an amalgam of Berrin’s influences, which span Billie Holiday break, riot grrrl bands, and angsty cult films. Similarly indebted to revolutionary woman teams as very well as her punk heroes, the album is a fiery and compelling—albeit a little bit uneven—exploration of like, anger, and coming-of-age.

Knowledgeable by her own recollections of pairing Dr. Martens with her school uniform and perusing amazing-girl bible Rookie Mag following class, Berrin alludes to adolescent rebel through Dying of a Cheerleader. She remembers kisses stolen beneath the bleachers on “Head Cheerleader”: “You should really talk to your mom what she indicates/She said keep away from women like me,” she sings. On the brutally scorching-blooded “Lux,” she envisions herself attending the homecoming dance as the eponymous protagonist of The Virgin Suicides, providing several of the album’s very best strains in a person fell swoop: “How do you count on me to figure myself out when I simply cannot convey to the change amongst lousy and good focus?” she roars, evoking Kathleen Hanna’s snarl in a swell of guitar sound.

In other places on Loss of life of a Cheerleader, Berrin falls into a softer, much more romantic method, although its effectiveness may differ. In the center of the album is a protect of Tommy Jones and the Shondells’ 1968 vintage “Crimson and Clover” that does minimal to revamp the initial involving punkier moments like “Lux” or “Shame Reactions,” Berrin’s version feels out of put. Other songs like “Forever” and “Be Good” also faucet into a ’60s pop aesthetic, but appear off emotion too temperate. Berrin’s cheerleader character serves as a culmination of the identities and influences that manufactured her, nevertheless it would seem she’s nevertheless refining what that signifies for her music. The “death” of the album’s title feels extra like a disavowal of arbitrary expectations—both people about cheerleaders them selves and about how a queer female of shade should to existing herself in rock audio. “It was empowering, in a way, to set on the bitch costume and be the bitch,” Berrin has claimed of her phase persona. Demise of a Cheerleader strives to go the torch to like-minded underdogs with aspirations to someday turn into that lady, as well.

Obtain: Tough Trade

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