Blondshell – ‘Blondshell’ review: raw rock anthems amongst the year’s best

Urgent, funny and fearless, the LA artist’s debut album sees her imbue her rage with wit and fierce ambition

Some albums subtly ravish you, and others leave your lip-smacking – Blondeshell’s stunning debut album is certainly the latter. There’s currently no shortage of lighter stuff – just look at the seriously impressive releases of Boygenius and Gracie Abrams – but rarely do they use anger and frustration to make points, pointed in or out. It’s what makes this L.A. rocker’s debut so memorable, powerful, and enjoyable.

Sabrina Teitelbaum, currently based in LA, began her recording career writing and releasing on-trend pop, fueled by her childhood loves of The Rolling Stones and The Nationals. That period would lead to a mildly successful single in 2020’s “Fuckboy,” a dramatic, if anonymous, track that would eventually be lost in the scraps to attention on streaming services. Change would come when Teitelbaum began writing songs only for himself and not with the hopes of releasing them, with the decision to go sober in early 2020. Radical honesty – and wit – will now prevail and shine through in every song alongside the raw, familiar sonic palette for more Teitelbaum to pull from.

‘Veronica Mars’, which sports a cheeky guitar riff alongside sly reflections on the Kristen Bell-starring 2004 TV drama and teen media consumption, tells us “Logan’s a dick, I’m learning it’s hot” . On ‘Joiner,’ between substance abuse and self-harm, humor finds a place next to sincerity: “I guess you watched too much HBO growing up,” he says with a raunchy grin. She says Even on ‘Sepsis,’ Teitelbaum willingly puts himself on the butt of the joke: “I’m going back to him, I know my physicians are pissed / We both know he’s a dick, less less than it is the obvious type”. It’s a record full of barbed and memorable one-liners.

Along with the liner notes, Teitelbaum compares large rocks as a “protective shell” to “blondeshells” in his writing for delicate vulnerability. This mars the texture somewhat – the production is completely attuned to what the song requires, not to shield it from scrutiny. Indeed, ‘Olympus’ could have been a minimalist ballad, but the measured production encourages the song to move forward, its subtle solo leaving a lasting impression. ‘Joiner’ has a radio-friendly tempo that feeds the chaos within, while the ferocity of ‘Sepsis”s chorus is as frustrated and angst-filled as the truth she tells about a doomed relationship:” It takes very little to change me off”, she roars.

‘Blondeshell’ is an absolute triumph in more ways than one. Rarely do emerging artists get the benefit of the doubt to change their tune, recalibrate their sound, and allow their lived experiences to find and develop their way into music. Too often it happens that the producer gets pigeonholed or, worse, gets written off – and that could have happened in Teitelbaum’s case. Instead, we have one of the alternative rock albums of the year, and one to cherish tightly for some time.


  • Release date: April 7
  • Record label: Partisan Records

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