The Donnas - Gold Medal
There was nothing very cool about the 1970's despite what they might try and tell you. Power cuts, flairs, strikes, Genesis and the worst television ever. It wasn't all bad, of course, but the first thing that strikes you about this album is that it seems to signify the very worst aspects of 1970's culture. There's nothing wrong with a bit of retro, but from the faux pencil drawn cover to the 'Goodies' type font employed in the booklet, The Donnas seem to revel in the sort of kitsch that, frankly, made the 70's shit. It sort of puts you off the music a bit as well. It simply reminds you that this sort of soft-rock riffage has been with us for decades and still doesn't sound any different that it did when Suzi Quatro was a name worth dropping.
Still, that's a bit harsh, but, nonetheless, there are no musical surprises on here. Arguably, there's not supposed to be of course, The Donnas have made a rather good rock album that wear's its influences on it's sleeve. That 70's feel is duplicated throughout with the fat, bloated guitar squeals that litter each song and backed by power chords that sound, well, like AC/DC circa Bon Scott. Look at the titles-aren't they nostalgic as well? None of them would look out of place on the back of an AC/DC album, especially 'It's So Hard'. It could have been released in 1978 and you wouldn't bat an eyelid. Songs like 'It Takes One To Know One' and 'Don't Break Me Down' are pure rock-by-numbers but performed to perfection.
There's something a little off putting about all this retro-kitsch stuff. The Donnas are a fine band, but not only do they offer nothing new, they seem positively proud of offering nothing new. You can see why Atlantic has high hopes for them. Old music from new bands, from The Darkness to Franz Ferdinand, is big business at the moment at The Donnas could well benefit from this but you're left wishing for something with a little more substance and, frustratingly, The Donnas seem as though they could offer much more than this.