Bands new release takes on religion

Some songs are not fully thought out, but so-called trash rockers take on Bible believers in ‘Jesus Chryst’

Keri Carlson

On the cover of their latest album “Jesus Chryst,” The Peppermints re-enact the last supper. The noise-punk group with messy dyed hair looks silly juxtaposed in robes surrounded by oil-painted apostles. But it is not until the inside of the CD that the real mockery begins – the supper turns into a sloppy, drunken food fight.

The band name The Peppermints seems so innocent. It conjures nostalgia for 1960s pop music that’s cute, sweet and short, made by girl groups such as the Dixie Cups, the Cookies and the Jelly Beans.

But the only thing The Peppermints have in common with past girl groups is the brief length of their songs. The Peppermints, composed of three girls and one boy, play loud noisy postpunk with sharp edges and disgusting song lyrics.

The group has been grossing out audiences with what they call “barfy, trash rock” since 1997; their live show is what caught the attention of indie freak-folk artists Animal Collective. The Peppermints’ second album comes out on Animal Collective’s label Paw Tracks.

Though the album cover and title would suggest otherwise, “Jesus Chryst” does not play like a concept record – the songs seem too random and unconnected. There is not exactly a central theme or a story at work, but the album does sound like a prelude to war.

The Peppermints squeak and squawk against a rumbling bass and wonky guitar in rapturous spurts, each clocking in at less than two minutes. The songs might not directly refer to the son of God himself, but they do challenge Bible-carrying conservatives.

“Santorum,” one of the few quiet tracks with a guitar that hums like a church bell, is also one of the dirtiest. After soft cooing of, “He likes it, you like it, she likes it,” the song reveals at the end that The Peppermints have been reading sex column “Savage Love” for inspiration. “Santorum” refers to Dan Savage’s term for a disgusting by-product of anal sex that Savage coined to “honor” homophobic U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

If The Peppermints are spreading the gospel, it’s the good book for the freaks and sinners.

This is what makes The Peppermints more than just a gross band for kitsch. In the spirit of daring, girl punk bands such as the Slits, Raincoats and Liliput, The Peppermints show a lack of concern for the conventional – whether musically or sexually.

At times, the record missteps with tracks that seem too repetitive and not fully formed into songs. Still, where “Jesus Chryst” strays, it comes back strong and ready to take on religious zealots.

Whose impending death The Peppermints are drinking to is not exactly clear. What is clear is that for an unnamed someone, there will be a last supper.