With Ireland recently becoming the first country to legalize gay marriage by popular vote, it’s easy to forget that the country’s track record of equality and social justice has long lagged behind much of the rest of the world. Hampered by historically strong ties to the Catholic church, Ireland has unintentionally spawned a strong community of young fighters for change—and with it, poignant and justifiably angry rock music. Sissy, a band on the front lines of this war for a fairer Ireland, made waves with “Sail and Rail” from their self-titled debut EP. The track punkified the melody of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” and used it to bring light to the dire situation of Irish people traveling abroad for still-illegal abortions.
Sissy’s new EP, Gave Birth to a Mum, plows ahead full throttle, both with its straightforward, riotous songwriting and its in-your-face messages. Desperate cries, shrieks, and yelps cut through simple, pounding drums and deliberately messy guitars. Lyrically, the group holds no punches and leave no room to miss their meaning—“We want the right, the right to choose,” they growl on “Attack.” Other lines are delivered more ominously, like this howling declaration of feeling commodified and disenfranchised on “Not Listening”: “We’re tools for stimulation / Or tools for impregnation / Our bodies treated like toys / When will they hear our voice.”
Sissy have a lot to complain about, and rightly so. In response to a question about the Catholic church’s influence on Ireland’s conservatism, Leigh gave a lengthy list of the Republic’s current injustices to Noisey:
[W]e just had to vote on whether or not to allow equal marriage rights to same sex couples. For another example, last year, after gay rights activist and drag queen Panti Bliss said on air that certain journalists and institutes were homophobic, the national public service broadcaster RTE paid out €85,000 and apologised to these evident homophobes. This is total bullshit. Abortion is still illegal. Our president, Taoiseach and judges take oaths to God and we have a blasphemy law. Jesus fucking Christ.
Although the band greeted the new legalization of gay marriage positively, they feel it’s just the tip of the iceberg in achieving true equality for the whole nation.
There is call now for equality on all levels. To give trans people full legal recognition of their preferred gender. To repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution to allow women access to legal and safe abortion in their own country needs to happen.
From treatment of immigrants to the lack of female sports coverage, Sissy calls attention to a ton of pressing issues plaguing Ireland. These proclamations shouldn’t be taken in an Irish bubble, though; while the specifics are different from country to country, these are things the whole world can work on. With Gave Birth to a Mum, it’s easy to see why rock n’ roll has historically been used as a political tool—concentrated anger breeds good music, and people listen.