Featured: How Perfect Pussy and Say Yes To Love Helped A Struggling Teenager

By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor

In 2014, noise-punk band Perfect Pussy released their debut album Say Yes To Love, 23 minutes filled with emotive lyrics, ear-piercing distortion and amazing vocals from lead singer Meredith Graves. Through these elements, many people around the world became inspired and struck with awe when listening to the record’s abrasiveness. In that big group of people, there stands me. Say Yes To Love immediately became one of my favorite records of all time, as it is one that helped me figure out who I really was as a person. It helped me realize that I had value in this world, something that I’ve been in doubt about for as long as I can remember.

Say Yes To Love came out when I was a 16-year-old high school junior, and no better record could’ve came out at that time; I was still in the early grieving stages after losing my mother a year and a half prior, I was coming to terms with my sexuality and self-identity and I was getting closer to college and adulthood, which gave me extreme anxiety. On top of all that, I was also struggling with living in a less populated house, as my sister was at college and my dad (who I did not have an excellent relationship with at the time) would work late nights, leaving me home by myself with two cats who did not like being around me. Basically, I felt all by myself and my hormones were raging: two things that should not go together.

I had just started reading music websites like Pitchfork to keep up with what was on the music radar, and for a while I’d been hearing about some band called Perfect Pussy. I had no clue who they were, but their name mesmerized me as it sounded too ridiculous to be real. I decided to listen to one of their earlier tracks “I.” Never had a track hit closer to home for me than “I,” with its blow-you-to-the-wall intensity and beautiful keyboard melodies. What gave me chills down my spine the most, however, were the lyrics. The words, “What love lays bare in me is energy,” and, “I am full of light / I am filled with joy / I am full of peace,” seemed so calm and tranquil, but Graves’ delivery was so unbelievably aggressive. It seemed as if she was having a panic attack while recording. The idea still blows me away, and when I heard an album was coming out, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Say Yes To Love starts with “Driver,” a track that goes from 0-100 MPH that quickly wowed me with one of my favorite lyrics, “Death comes last to the party / Meanwhile I’m biding my time / So you can’t take your own life / That’s cutting in line.” I think that was the first line that taught me that I had some amount of purpose; I was waiting in line with everyone else, I was no different from anyone who had given me low self-esteem and made me feel like an outcast. We’re all here to wait in line for the end, and that’s it. As dark as that may seem, it was something that truly spoke to me, as it told me the people who intimidated me were actually no better, and I was no worse than them.

The most emotional song on the record for me (and most fans) is “Interference Fits,” which discusses falling in love and getting married. As someone who is still freaked out by the idea of relationships, I was able to relate to a lot of the words in this song. The lyrics, “And then my friends began to fall in love / First with themselves and then with each other / I met my despair in midday light / And it was amazing and I almost cried,” made me think about my friends who started relationships in high school while I was still figuring out who exactly I was, making me feel strange and slower than everyone else around me. It was a situation that always gave me anxiety and low self-esteem, as if I was doing something wrong with my life. The song taught me that there was nothing wrong with me and that eventually I would be comfortable in my own skin and with everyone around me. It was like my song of hope, an anthem that told me not to give up on figuring my life out.

After listening to the record several times in a row, I checked out interviews of the band, where I learned more about the band’s singer, Meredith Graves, who would eventually become my personal hero. I watched their interview with Nardwaur the Human Serviette and fell in love with each member’s personalities and quirkiness. I then checked out a few videos of Graves about her personal style, which made me really interested in her as a person. She presented herself with the confidence I always wanted, with the look I only dreamed of having. Meredith Graves reminded me of the person I had always wanted to be; this really cool and confident person with a punk band doing whatever they want and traveling all over the world with their cool friends who are also doing whatever they want.

I have seen Perfect Pussy live five times, more than any other band I’ve ever seen before. Describing their shows as the loudest and most intense 25 minutes of your life still wouldn’t be serving them justice. One of my favorite memories of the band’s amazing live shows is when I saw them live in Chicago at the Pitchfork Music Festival. It was the only thing I was really, really excited about that day, and I made sure I was going to be in the front no matter how hard I had to try to do it. They tore the entire place down—the crowd was absolutely insane with people just like me going crazy. Everyone in the band had the same amount of energy as us. It was one of those rare moments where I felt completely 100% comfortable, like I was at home. After they finished their short set, they left the stage, except for the drummer, who came up to me, said, “Nice shirt,” and gave me his setlist, causing me to immediately break down and cry. Being at that show was one of the first times as a teenager where I didn’t feel scared and vulnerable.

Perfect Pussy is up there as one of my favorite bands of all time. But while listening to other favorite bands like Gorillaz or Black Moth Super Rainbow feels nostalgic, Perfect Pussy always felt more personal. Listening to Say Yes To Love would bring back memories of sleeping in my old French class while listening to quieter parts of the album, followed by a pouncing wall of noise that would immediately wake me up, or cheering myself up by blasting my vinyl copy and laying next to the speakers, doing nothing while being hit with constant waves of distortion. As simple as they might sound, those are memories I hold close to me, as they helped me gain confidence in myself and reminded me that no matter how many bad thoughts I could think about myself, I’m the same as everyone around me and I should never beat myself up, no matter how bad the scenario. They are one of few bands that gave me the strength and courage I needed in the most vulnerable part of my life, and Say Yes To Love is an album I couldn’t live without.

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