Working Class Woman
“I work, all the fucking time” announces Marie Davidson on trunk-rattling single “Work It.”
This is a declaration no fan of hers would ever have questioned to begin with — just seven months ago her duo with Pierre Guerineau, Essaie Pas, released its most muscular, realized album to date. Davidson repeats that dunk with Working Class Woman, her fifth solo album.
“I love it, I work,” she continues. But elsewhere on the record she paints a near sociopathic portrait of her work ethic that is utterly devoid of empathy. That cruel gaze is directed outwards on opener “Your Biggest Fan,” where Davidson gnashes at the needing-to-be-somebody late night hanger-on who sees her as a status bolstering party accessory rather than the soldier she is. Yet she is just as fast to burst her own bubble on “The Psychiatrist,” where she tries to outrun her self-scrutiny, and “The Tunnel,” where her snarl and glare exteriorize as a claustrophobic pit in which she is trapped. On instrumental track “Workaholic Paranoid Bitch,” she uses machine-gun beats and a tinny, convulsive bass line to replace the corrosiveness of her words.
Davidson may at times be manic, perhaps even mad, but her self-reliance and rejection of appeasing anyone give the central theme of Working Class Woman a hard-earned validation.
While the texture of the album is spiky, menacing, maybe even poisonous, Davidson makes two particularly poignant exceptions to the blitzkrieg: the blissfully vacuous “Day Dreaming” (which would have been a perfect fit on Holodeck’s ambient comp from earlier this year) and the slo-mo house of “So Right,” a track that seems to find joy only in surrender.
By the end of a first spin, you may well feel exhausted. But if parts of Working Class Woman feel like getting amputated on amphetamines rather than anesthetic, just remember what it must have taken for Davidson to bring you to that extreme.
• By Colin GallantAlbum, Canadian, dance, DFA, ebm, electro, electronic, Essaie Pas, industrial, Marie Davidson, Montreal, Ninja Tune, Review, Synth