One of the strangest things about the Lilith Fair, which advertised itself as "A Celebration of Women in Rock", was that there was no real rock represented. Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls? What's missing from that equation? Rock. The fact that it was so hyped is just as troubling because it reinforces the uneducated mainstream opinion there is no real rock music being made by women today. That conclusion would be grossly inacurate. Some of the best rock of the 90s was made by PJ Harvey, The Breeders, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Hole (until that "Celebrity Skin" fiasco) and Babes in Toyland.
Babes in Toyland is one of the best of the groups I just mentioned and "Fontanelle", their first full length album shows them in all their power. The three piece musical arrangements are decidedly primitive that's one of the things that makes Babes in Toyland so compelling, especially when combined with Kat Bjelland's ferocious vocals. No one, man or woman, can do the things vocally that Kat Bjelland can. She has the remarkable ability to scream at the listener non-stop over the near-forty minutes of this album, but in such a way that is undeniably pleasurable to listen to. There is one chilling moment on "Mother" the thirteenth song on the album when she goes from a full throated growl to a sharp, sustained scream in a single breath. That is what I call singing.
The lyrics are easy to miss here, thanks to Kat's vocal style and the grittiness of the music but they hold up well against the rest of the albums principle components. They are bitter, angry and intense, if not terribly poetic. They justify the sonic brutality of the album and make perfect sense. The rage here is real and believable. Babes in Toyland rock like no other women on the planet.