Swedish trio, Dolores Haze have referred to themselves as ‘the punk rock Swedish Spice Girls’; which given their sophomore LP ‘Play Hard Fuck Hard Love Hard’ sounds reminiscent of Ace of Base, Tove Lo and Sigrid, this writer is wondering where the punk rock is amongst the paired back electro pop? It’s not until I backtracked to earlier cut ‘The Haze is Forever’, where the punk rock self-styling makes sense. Suffice to say, anything sonically resembling punk has been jettisoned but the punk attitude remains, as the band take multiple swipes at bullshit macho culture throughout their new LP.
Mostly the message of calling out toxic male-orientated behaviour comes across well but it’s the execution that feels clumsy throughout ‘Play Hard Fuck Hard Love Hard’. ‘Banana’, a song decrying some men’s obsession of sending photos of their junk – thinking it’ll be just the ticket to wow a potential suitor – cuts deep into the zeitgeist, whilst sliding in nicely to the #MeToo movement. Certainly, the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump and Bill Cosby are deplorable and need to be held accountable for their actions and ‘Banana’ points the strange shaped tropical fruit right at scumbags like them. The problem is the way the track is delivered, it comes across as a novelty song; it’s already been voted the most hated song on YouTube in 2018. For anyone familiar with Despicable Me – the way banana is pronounced, it conjures up a resemblance to those dumb but playful Minions “I don’t want to see your banana/your ding dong dangle/I don’t wanna”. Further attempts at being badass fall short, with ‘Suck My Ego’ mimicking a sub-par MIA but it must be said, sonically it’s abrasive pop electronics tick the box nicely – it’s the lyrics and vocal delivery that don’t hit the spot. ‘Flip’ a track based around faux-posturing and flexing about “my hair game is strong” and “standing in brand new Dior” again, is more cringe-worthy than confrontational and empowering. Although, the shifting sonic dynamics from jarring noise to minimal synths and beats works nicely.
It’s when ‘Play Hard Fuck Hard Love Hard’ exposes a vulnerability, like on the tender ‘The Final Show’ and the icy-cool of ‘I Never Saw This Coming’ it feels like Dolores Haze find their sweet spot. When the trio opt for the more in-yer-face approach, it can sound like novelty YouTube music but when they inject some minimalism and strip things back, it’s where the record is at its best.
The idea is there, and you can’t fault Dolores Haze for wanting to puncture the over inflated male ego but ‘Play Hard Fuck Hard Love Hard’ for the most part is a clumsy album that doesn’t quite deliver the sucker punch it would like to.
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams