The break ups of retro-rock groups like The Young Veins and The Like in 2011 left a niche hole in the music industry, one that hasn’t really been filled by anyone since. Enter The Regrettes, a four-piece retro/punk outfit comprised of frontwoman Lydia Night, guitarist Genessa Gariano, bass player Sage Nicole and drummer Maxx Marando. However, their sound skews slightly left of these retro-rock groups, instead existing at the intersection of 1960s girl bands (think the Ronettes and the Shirelles) and 90s Riot Grrrl acts (like Hole and Bikini Kill). Sweet harmonies are intertwined with strong punk riffs for a refreshing sound.
Their debut album, Feel Your Feelings Fool!, sounds like a declaration of rights and grievances of teenage girls (and let’s face it, grown women) everywhere. With ‘60s pop-inspired harmonies mingling with chaotic guitar riffs and brash lyrics, fifteen tracks explore their right to be confident, to be insecure, to be honest, and to change their minds at will. Opening track “I Don’t Like You” shows us that the Regrettes aren’t here to be coy; lyrics like “You say hello/I want to die” establish this blunt honesty right away, even though they’re simply explaining that they don’t want to lead someone on in a dead-end relationship.
Feel Your Feelings Fool! isn’t just the album title; it’s a directive. Night doesn’t want teen girls like herself hiding their feelings to make anyone more comfortable. To make this point, the album gets name-dropped in “Head in the Clouds,” a song all about trying to give a friend advice about a significant other. The song breaks into talking when that friend tries to avoid showing their emotions to their “cool” significant other, leading Night to yell, “Feel your feelings, fool!”
Often their brazen confidence is tempered with vulnerability, making their attitude relatable rather than simply aspirational for those who might not be there quite yet. For instance, “A Living Human Girl” lists out every insecurity Night has had about her body and personality, something most people can relate to. However, the song still ties into the bold self-assurance of the album: “I don’t exercise and I don’t read books/And if you want to criticize me go ahead and take a look. I’m not being bossy, I’m saying how I feel/And I’m not a bitch for stating what is real,” Night sings, asserting herself after exploring those insecurities. “Hey Now” is a frothy, flirtatious number about hitting on a crush, but isn’t without its own moments of vulnerability. “Hey now, come over here/Hey now, you’re my biggest fear,” Night admits in the midst of the flirting. The Regrettes aren’t here for one-1dimensionality; Feel Your Feelings Fool! makes the point that insecurity doesn’t erase strength and confidence. Girls are not any one thing.
However, even in those slightly more sensitive moments, you can’t forget that the Regrettes aren’t here for anyone’s patriarchal bullshit. “Seashore” is a calm, lovely tune that shows off the band’s punk stripes with its blunt message. “I’m like nobody else, so you can just go fuck yourself,” the chorus repeats, asserting that they’re not going to stand for condescension. “‘Seashore’ pretty much sums up my feelings towards all the assholes who ever doubted me due to my age or gender,” Night explained in an interview with Consequence of Sound.
The Regrettes bring the point full circle in the penultimate track, “Ladylike/WHATTA BITCH.” This song opens with an a cappella list of things young ladies are expected to be, then explodes in sound when Night lists every bad thing that was said about her for being a feminist who speaks her mind. The dichotomy between the two parts of the song carries the album’s aesthetic to the end and drives their point home: they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing, regardless of what people think–and you should too.