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 devastate you with subtlety, and others bust your lip – Blondshell’s superb debut album is certainly the latter. There’s no lack of the lighter stuff currently – just look at Boygenius and Gracie Abrams’ seriously impressive releases – but seldom do they use rage and despair, pointed inwards or outwards, to make the point. It’s what makes this LA rocker’s debut so memorable, potent and enjoyable.

Sabrina Teitelbaum, currently based in LA, began her recording career writing and releasing on-trend pop, a world away from her childhood loves of The Rolling Stones and The National. That period would spawn a mildly successful single in 2020’s ‘Fuckboy’, a dramatic, if anonymous, track that would eventually get lost in the scrap for attention on streaming services. Change would come when Teitelbaum began writing songs just for herself and not with the expectation to release them, alongside a decision to go sober in early 2020. Radical honesty – and wit – would now prevail and shine in every song, alongside a rawer, more familiar sonic palette for Teitelbaum to pull from.

‘Veronica Mars’, which sports a chugging guitar riff alongside sly reflections on the Kristen Bell-starring 2004 TV drama and teenage media consumption, tells us that “Logan’s a dick, I’m learning that’s hot”. On ‘Joiner’, amidst substance misuse and self-harm, humour finds a place next to the sincerity: “I think you watched way too much HBO growing up”, she says with a wry grin. Even on ‘Sepsis’, Teitelbaum willingly puts herself at the butt of the joke: “I’m going back to him, I know my therapist’s pissed / We both know he’s a dick, at least it’s the obvious kind”. This is a record stuffed with barbed and memorable one-liners.


In accompanying liner notes, Teitelbaum likens the big riffs on ‘Blondshell’ as a “protective shell” for the fragile vulnerability in her writing. It does the textures something of a disservice – the production is perfectly attuned to what the song needs, not there to shield it from scrutiny. Indeed, ‘Olympus’ could have been a minimalist ballad, but the measured production encourages the song forward, its subtle solo leaving a lasting imprint. ‘Joiner’ has a radio-friendly pace that feeds the chaos within, while the ferocity of  ‘Sepsis’s chorus is as frustrated and angst-ridden as the truths she spills about a doomed relationship: “It should take a whole lot less to turn me off”, she roars.

‘Blondshell’, then, is a complete triumph in several ways. Rarely do emerging artists receive the benefit of the doubt to change tack, recalibrate their sound and allow their lived experiences to develop and find their way into the music. Too often is that creator pigeonholed or, worse, written off – and such could have been the case for Teitelbaum. Instead, we have one of the alternative rock albums of the year, and one to treasure tightly for quite some time.


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

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