Mr. Wrong’s debut LP, Babes in Boyland, starts throwing flames within the first few seconds. A combination of both new and reworked material, the album’s nine tracks showcase the Portland three-piece’s raw talent and combustible energy.
Moffett (guitar/vocals) and Ursula (drums/vocals) released their Distraction demo in 2016, a collection of short lo-fi punk cuts that pay homage to the Pacific Northwest’s riot grrrl roots. That revivalist territory’s been trodden many times before, especially in recent years, but Mr. Wrong goes offroading with simple but snarling sarcasm that challenges the status quo of their own scene.
After releasing the demos, the then-duo met Leona at their first house show, and later added her on bass and vocals. Babes in Boyland finds Mr. Wrong “infiltrating boyland” and dismantling it brick by brick. The title track opens the record with a clear mission statement: “Babes in Boyland/Ditch the boy band/Dump your boyfriend/Start your own band.”
“Baby Stimmen” is sung entirely in German, and the jangly earworm “Witchy” conjures the great Stevie Nicks’ occult flair. “Join the Comfortable” and “Dead or Alive” deal with the feeling of being numb and isolated from the outside world. “Troll” stampedes over internet misogynists, while the standout “Asshole” takes aim at Mr. Wrong himself: “He’s walking around in his Carhartt/Like he’s so trendy and smart/You know he’s not, but you won’t tell him/I don’t know why.”
It’s a satisfying jab at a familiar character, but also a vulnerable moment for the firebrands. They don’t know why they can’t summon the power to vanquish this asshole who’s “debating whether or not you’re worth dating.” But it’s exhausting to constantly dismantle Boyland, especially when it’s populated by countless Mr. Wrongs.
The album’s roughly hewn melodies are catchy, but what they’re singing about is valuable—it’d be great to hear them push the vocals to the front of future recordings. Babes in Boyland is a promising debut from Mr. Wrong, a band that isn’t afraid to throw some elbows.