PWR BTTM: A Review

By Kat Aschman

PWR BTTM is a American queer punk duo composed of Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins, who first met in 2011 at Bard College in New York state. In 2014 they released their demo, Cinderella Beauty Shop, and since then they’ve released several singles and two albums. I’d never heard of them before being assigned to review their work. To research them as fully as possible, I listened to as much of their music as I could find, mainly their two albums, Ugly Cherries (2015) and Pageant (2017). And I have to say, I liked what I heard.

Their music is most definitely punk rock, combining high-energy guitar and drums with slower vocals and strong lyrics. I’m personally a fan of the genre, having grown up with it — my mother was a big fan and left me with a nostalgic taste for The Clash and Midnight Oil. In addition, the duo embrace their identity as queer music creators, and as someone who falls under many aspects of the LGBTQ+ umbrella, I tend to have a bit of a soft spot for queer media. Really, it’s not a surprise that I like PWR BTTM — it’s more surprising that I didn’t know the band in the first place.

The 2017 February single “Big Beautiful Day” is probably one of my favorites, with a blatant message of rebellious self-love. As someone who has struggled with identity and accepting myself, the chorus of “Who the hell gave you the right to tell me that I’m wrong/Curse every one of you who tells me that I cannot be who I want/Ain’t no fucking way you’ll fuck up my big beautiful day” struck a personal chord with me. Other songs of theirs are more humorous, like the single “Answer My Text”. Combined with a visually intriguing video, the song is a comedic exaggeration of the singer waiting to hear back from someone they’re crushing on; through it’s exaggeration, it perfectly captures the anxiety and stress of being in that exact situation. Additionally, the song never once genders either the singer or the crush, not only making it more relatable for a wider audience but also making me personally very happy. Plus, the line “My teenage angst will be with me well into my thirties” is just pure gold.

I have to say, now that I know their music, PWR BTTM is definitely going to be one of my new favorite artists. And funnily enough, while looking them up, I found out that not only are they on tour right now, but they’re hosting a concert in my hometown when I’ll be back there for the summer. Suffice to say, tickets for it have already been bought. If you’re a fan of punk rock, queer artists, or music that you can feel good about yourself while listening to, I’d say to definitely check these guys out.

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