Screaming Females- Desire Pathway

by | Feb 26, 2023 | Reviews

Screaming Females Desire Pathway


On February 17, 2023, beloved New Jersey heavyweights Screaming Females released their eighth full-length record, Desire Pathway, out into the world. The record’s name refers to the natural occurrence of an unplanned trail that develops due to repeated erosion from human or animal foot traffic through a specific area. “Maybe there was one in your neighborhood growing up, a corner where everyone decided it took too long to go around, so they made their own pathway to cut through,” says singer and guitarist, Marissa Paternoster. “There’s this cool unsaid group consciousness that comes together where everyone decides, this is the right way to go.” 


Now in the eighteenth year of their inception, the band show no signs of slowing down and are continuing to forge their own path with plenty of epic shredding and bellowing along the way. It is safe to say that Screaming Females are one of the best bands out there and they are able to keep creating excellent music by leaning into their strengths and knowing which direction to push their sound. In thirty-three minutes and thirteen seconds, Desire Pathway addresses the difficulty of letting go, the perceived safety of isolation, and allowing oneself to mourn.


Screaming Females performing

Screaming Females in 2021, see more here. (photo by Kate Hoos)


Worth noting are the parallels between “Brass Bell” opening this LP and “Glass House” kicking things off on their 2018 release All at Once, as both songs are predicated on being stuck in a controlling, undesirable relationship with no ability to dream past the present. Romantic hardship is a recurring theme throughout Paternoster’s work with the band as well as in her solo work, which I wrote about last year


“Mourning Dove” was one of the album’s singles and its here that Paternoster gets candid about her experience with immense heartbreak. Catchy and reflective, the song features a shifting emotional arc as Paternoster works through her grief. She shares, “It is seldom that any Screaming Females song is about just one thing. ‘Mourning Dove’ is the only exception that I can really think of, a song about being profoundly in love while simultaneously being profoundly heartbroken.”  The music video for the track features the band performing onstage in front of a backdrop designed by Paternoster (who is an incredible illustrator as well as musician), with dancers fluttering around with pairs of white wings on their backs in the later part of the video.



With ten songs over the course of the album, what emerges are various forms of relating to vulnerability. In “Desert Train,” Paternoster wants to protect herself from being hurt, proclaiming that she’s “a freight train in the desert dragging chains.”  On “So Low,” she poses a series of questions pertaining to the perceived diminishment of her worth, ”If your car spun out while I was at the wheel/Would you keep me anyway?/If I broke both knees while I tried to kneel/Would you keep me anyway?”. Sonically, one of my favorite tracks is “Beyond the Void” which features a grungier tinge with ballad-like vocal delivery.



This was also their third record to be produced by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Pearl Jam, Foxing) and was recorded at Minnesota’s legendary Pachyderm Studios where PJ Harvey made Rid of Me and Nirvana made In Utero. While the record certainly is polished, it is still distinctly Screamales. The album art of paths cutting through dense neighborhoods in black and white was also designed by Paternoster, who has created all of the band’s past album covers. 


Desire Pathway is a tight and well-written album from one of the best bands out there. We are so glad to see that Screaming Females are still going strong after all these years and can’t wait to catch them on tour soon!


Desire Pathway is out now via Don Giovanni and is available on all major streaming platforms.


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Check out FTA’s coverage of Screamales recent Garden Party Night Two.




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