Death of a Cheerleader is a record that works on a couple of levels. At face value, the songs here from Pom Pom Squad, with their palm-muted guitars and crowd-pleasing pop hooks, are a pleasant-enough throwback to those late-’90s alternative-rock acts that plastered the walls of high school bedrooms all over the world.
As with all good subversive art, these influences are only a framework for something lying deeper below the surface. As a queer person of colour growing up in predominately white spaces, Pom Pom Squad lead singer Mia Berrin always felt a constant awareness of how others perceived her. So, while the music might be grunge-era nostalgia, Berrin uses her lyrics to hold up a mirror to a scene that preaches individualism but rewards conformity, through music created by people of colour that’s now packaged in a way that makes people of colour feel odd for loving it.
Don’t get me wrong – this record is definitely a bit of a curate’s egg. Personally speaking, I struggled at first to break through the crust of Avril Lavigne-esque mall rock to find the meaning underneath. But honestly, stick with it; Death of a Cheerleader really does have something important to say.
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