Delilah Bon: Delilah Bon
(Trash Queen Records)
Released 21st May 2021
Delilah Bon is the explosive new project from the mind of multi-instrumentalist, producer and prolific punk rock queen Lauren Tate. Andy Brown shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.
A cursory glance at the headlines is enough to remember the kind of environment women have to live in every single day. From the murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer in the UK to the recent declaration by Imran Khan, the PM of Pakistan, that women should cover up to avoid “temptation”. By “temptation” he means rape and sexual assault. Sexism and misogyny are as rampant around the world as they’ve always been, which makes an album like this all the more crucial. Delilah Bon is a genre-splicing celebration of female empowerment and an explosive new chapter for the Hands Off Gretel vocalist and punk rock priestess Lauren Tate.
The album truly is a labour of love with Tate writing, performing and producing everything you hear. From the filthy bass and discordant guitars to the hip hop beats and lyrics; Delilah Bon is a bold and brilliantly badass opening statement. Tate calls this fierce fusion of hip hop and punk sensibilities ‘Brat Punk’; a fresh take on the often polarising rap rock/ nu-metal genre. It’s a style I approach with some trepidation (remember Fred ‘ooh, look at my big chainsaw’ Durst?). Tate, however, has produced an album that skilfully reinterprets the genre: you haven’t heard anything quite like Delilah Bon before. There’s a strong message underpinning the riffs and rap: a riotous revolution built around feminism and empowerment.
Freak Of The Week doesn’t hold back as it transports us to the sweaty dancefloor of a pre-pandemic world. Tate swats away some persistently creepy male attention as she tries to enjoy a night on the tiles. The satisfyingly grungy bass line blends into hip hop beats and Tate’s magnetic performance. A new vocal style that seamlessly blends razor-sharp rap with the full-throated punk rock stylings we’ve come to expect. Soul Sisters is a slick, groove-laden ode to sisterly solidarity and a reaction to the online bullying Tate experienced. The fantastically ferocious Bad Attitude drops one of the albums most satisfying riffs; a mosh pit worthy beast that pushes everything firmly into-the-red. Tate aptly describes the track as her ‘middle finger anthem’. The spirit of Riot Grrrl is very much alive and well.
Where My Girls At? comes swinging in with one of the albums most compulsive grooves and tackles women’s safety head on, “We’ve got to stay angry for all the girls killed every night”. School takes on the bile of bullies and teachers at Tate’s school and the subsequent fake friends that came crawling out of the woodwork. The guitars on the chorus channel the all-encompassing, thick layers of noise created by the Deftones. The hypnotic hip-hop/ rock experimentation of Red Dress features a nod of solidarity to her manager and mother Helen Tate; “It’s always been me and my mother/ we’re proving them wrong, uplifting each other”. The album finds a beautiful balance between tearing down the misogynistic creeps and lifting up the important people in Tate’s life.
The hook-laden and wonderfully wild Chiquitita finds Tate intervening like some punk rock guardian angel, “Chiquitita you and I know/ How the heartache will come and the heartache will go”. The track has some of the most cathartic throat-shredding screams I’ve heard in years. Chop Dicks turns Tate’s attention towards rape culture, victim blaming and the desperate need for men and boys to educate themselves and do much, much better. “You guys pretend it’s funny when its not” spits Tate, “Did it happen to your sister? I guess not”. Homework finds Tate heading back to school and coming on like a one woman, rap-rock reincarnation of Destiney’s Child. An anthem for self-love, independence and acceptance without male ‘approval’.
A transformative tale of a “good girl/ gone bad”, Devil is a wickedly fun slice of nu-metal influenced rap. Tate’s voice is an absolute force-of-nature. The stunning War On Women dials back the screams and finds her tackling racism, homophobia, transphobia, rape culture and the climate crisis. “A war on women is a war on us all” sings Tate on the chorus, “They’ll poison the water like they poisoned our souls”. A powerful, unifying anthem that everyone really needs to hear. Tate’s flow is not dissimilar to Eminem except the lyrical focus has been completely and brilliantly turned on its head. The album ends with the confrontational funk of I Get The Feelin’; a glorious bombardment of life-affirming rage.
Tate’s words and message remain focussed and devastatingly effective throughout, the Delilah Bon persona unleashing a whole new level of clever, sarcastic, empathetic and righteously angry lyrics. Offering help to those that need it and a firm middle finger to the rest. Tate has handcrafted everything for the project too, including all the videos. The living embodiment of the DIY attitude. Glen Danzig from The Misfits recently bemoaned how ‘woke culture’ meant punk could never happen now. Well, it’s happening right here Glen! And as Huggy Bear yelled back in ‘93, “this is happening without your permission!” Along with acts like Dream Nails, Big Joanie, The Baby Seals and Miss Eaves, Delilah Bon is here to put female voices centre stage: if you’re a male fan (like myself) you’d do well to listen up.
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.