The world has always been hostile toward women and non-binary people, but the recent weeks of publicly relived tales of abuse and harassment at the hands of men have compounded this perpetual pain. But this means that Carrboro trio Fitness Womxn couldn't have picked a better time to release Macho City, its debut LP and an essential, affirming force for these times.
Macho City opens with the one-two punch of "Erosion" and "Living Hell," re-recorded iterations of the band's digital single from May. "Erosion" is jittery and hair-raising, while "Living Hell" vacillates between and devastating deadpan.
Behind sing-shout vocals, prickly guitar parts jitter over rumbling, fuzzy bass and guitar. The tone of the record is largely brooding and seething, but Fitness Womxn breaks it up with plain, chirpy vocals over clean drum-machine beats on "Fit Bit.01" and "Fit Bit.02."
"Tastemaker," which arrives late in the record, is a no-holds-barred takedown of self-proclaimed (and almost always male) tastemakers. Every single line is a barb against the egotistical attitudes that run rampant among music fans and collectors. There are direct nods to tiresome showmanship through lines like "I own every seven-inch, twelve-inch, EP, LP, cassette tape, and FLAC file worth owning."
But the song also speaks to some of the more insidious misogyny that's part of the industry, as with the line "I love your aesthetic, I'm so happy to see your partner's had a good influence on you," the assumption being that a woman can't develop their own tastes. "Tastemaker" is cathartic, and it's oddly reassuring to hear these grievances aired loudly and publicly, rather than murmured in private spaces.
With Macho City, Fitness Womxn creates a safety zone for feeling raw, angry, and fed-up. It's one we desperately need right now. But if you find yourself feeling particularly wounded by Fitness Womxn's jabs, the band says it best in the closing lines of "Living Hell": "My best advice to you is repent/Or get bent!"