In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re picking our favorite songs of protest and dissent.
For me the words “political” and “punk” have always been synonymous, as the best punk songs have always been protest songs. Before I even heard a note of Open City’s self-titled debut, the band’s pedigree let me know what was in store. Featuring a who’s who of modern hardcore elite—Dan Yemin of Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, and Paint It Black; Andy Nelson of Ceremony and Paint It Black; Rachel Rubino of Bridge And Tunnel; and Chris Wilson of Ted Leo And The Pharmacists—the band surprise-released its debut album last week, and opening track “Hell Hath No Fury” didn’t disappoint. In fact, it gave me everything I’d been aching for these last few weeks.
While I have plenty of records I reach for when I’m in need of an angry, cathartic release, “Hell Hath No Fury” entered my life at the exact right time. In the wake of Inauguration Day I felt dispirited with every new headline that crawled across my Twitter feed, and Open City offered me the riotous anthem I’d been craving in response. Following a quick guitar lead at the top of “Hell Hath No Fury,” the band starts spitting bile, offering a song that sounds like an open wound set to music. Rubino takes every misogynistic statement that’s been flung her direction and throws them right back, poking holes in fragile male egos with every lyrical stab.
Rubino bakes the song’s title right into the lyrics, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? / You’re goddamn right.” She follows it up with a pairing that channels all the frustrations of dealing with boyish men and their toxic personalities with this one-two punch: “I don’t have the patience to tell you anymore / I shouldn’t have to tell a grown man how to act.”
Rubino throws out rhetorical questions throughout “Hell Hath No Fury,” each one landing harder than the last. “I bet you’d like if we sat in silence / And never said anything,” the rage palpable and escalating with every syllable. Rubino’s throat-rattling screams serve as a continual reminder of the necessity to speak up against everything being thrown at us, especially when silence looks more and more like compliance. Addressing the kind of childish insecurities that we’ve seen over and over again since Donald Trump entered the White House, it’s how she brings the song to a close—“If our opinions are secondary / Why are we such a threat to you?”—that serves as the kind of mic-drop moment hardcore so rarely gets. And it’s a nice opportunity for us to pick it up and keeping going.