American-Ukrainian indie rock group, VINOK, are much like other genre-defining bands, both past and present. Born from their personal experiences and the experiences of those they’re close to, the group puts a heavy focus on issues of social change and individual acceptance, following in the footsteps of almost all of their punk-inspired peers. These themes of searching for justice and advocating for others is thus continued with their newest single, “Elephant Girl.”
“Elephant Girl” is a riveting lash out against society’s norms and rules and those that attempt to shove you inside of them. Based on the person, movie, and story of the “Elephant Man,” it wanders through the mind of another disabled person — this time a woman dealing with her own spiritual awakening. The visceral, screaming vocals push back against anyone who’s lectured her, in an effort to establish her own individuality.
The track is often ruled by the bluesy roars of lead singer, Nathalie, whose voice is incredibly unique — especially for the genre of the track. It’s rugged and tough, making the more passionate and empowered moments even more striking. The gaps in lyrics are filled with deep, thundering drums and reckless shredding of guitars that both bring an ominous aggression behind her every statement. The occasional horn comes in from time to time to breakup any potential monotony, but for the most part it’s pretty bread-and-butter for heavier rock.
The main issue I have with the song is the lack of importance that comes from the woman’s condition. If I hadn’t known the thematic approach from the start, I doubt I could identify that the person being portrayed was struggling with a disability. Aside from the song title’s obvious hint at it, much of the language used is standard punk, shoving off authority and judgement. Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily impact the quality of the track, but I think more vivid details could increase the impact it has on its listeners. Overall, it’s a strong, self-empowering anthem to anyone facing a lack of recognition or identity, especially for a female audience.