You know she’s kidding when she starts off “Work It” with simply “you wanna know how I get away with everything? I work, alllll the FUCKING time.” Like much of her new album, Marie Davidson says this with such drawling dead-pan tone you don’t exactly know how you’re supposed to react to it. However, between her staple role in Montreal band Essai Pas and a litany of solo projects and collaborations, Davidson is legitimately one of hardest working people in electronic music today.
Over the course of the decade she’s honed her dynamic brand of French techno sounds all while being critical of her position in the world, knowing that club culture can have its faults from the harmless fake fans to the more terrifying lack of real concern for people’s health and, particularly, women’s safety. Working Class Women is a pointed answer to an age where capitalism has turned even feminism into a grounds for commodification and destruction of women’s autonomy all while continuing to break new sonic ground for the creative electronic musician.
The idea of a woman’s work is an important battle ground at this point in time. Women are thankfully no longer limited to the house wife role, however, we also live in the gig economy where everyone is their own boss and nobody has health insurance and certain publications and advertisements are acting like it’s inspiring if women (and any lower class person) go to hell and back everyday so they can become a “doer.”
On “Work it,” in particular, Davidson sounds like this dubious rhetoric, but she places a critical lens on it with the tenacity of the violent sonic environment and the aforementioned sarcasm. This theme permeates the album.
Opener “Your Biggest Fan” sees Davidson facing a lot of questions from a fake fan including one particularly jarring line where the character wonders if she really needs all the equipment she carries around. Whether it be the literal musical experience of dealing with sound dudes who don’t believe the women coming to their venue actually know what they’re talking about, or perhaps the reactions to a young female journalist’s admittedly flawed take on the Aziz Ansari story, Women are facing this dichotomy of needing to become workaholics while simultaneously being side-eyed in their work as if they cannot handle the tasks they are doing. Despite seeing the absence of Davidson’s vocals, plainly title “Paranoid Workaholic Bitch” sees this in its full-throttle violent energy.
Another point of discussion in today’s mainstream is Mental Health. Another seemingly well-intentioned battle ground, Mental Health is somewhat of a SEO buzzword that capitalism has gnashed its fangs into in recent years. Speaking with a disembodied male voice, Davidson repeats the work “Crazy” constantly and also flirts with insanity: “you like it when it’s insane?” I’m sure this doesn’t literally sound like anyone’s therapy appointments now, but the idea of the manic pixie dream girl still permeates much of our media so modern women tend to be faced with another contradictory notion as they must both be well versed in mental health issues as well as unhinged and fun in the dating game.
It could even be more autobiographical than that as we’re living in an era where these mental health concerns can also creep into our analysis of pop stars and performers. I won’t dive into the complicated stupidity of 2018 Kanye, but even in the Yeezus era there were ideas that West was losing it and this was reflected in his jarring music–and don’t get me started on the rhetorical sludge that surrounds musicians who have fallen victim to suicide. Davidson’s live shows carry a certain tenacity so, I’m sure people have thought it reflected a crazed person letting entirely loose with their art–an ideal that simply wouldn’t be sustainable with the rigorous (read: workaholic) touring schedule of the modern performer.
The album can be tied specifically into Davidson’s experience, but it also addresses contemporary culture in a more sweeping way and thankfully there’s room for fun in there too. Whether you want to feel the overwhelming weight of the day, or head-bang it away, Working Class Woman has you covered.