I was a kid in second grade when the 4 Non Blondes released Bigger, Better, Faster, More! and “What’s Up?” topped the charts internationally. Lead vocalist Linda Perry’s haunting wails still echo thirty-something years later when we think of iconic ’90s standards– but it wasn’t until I was older that I discovered there was so much more to this album, and it’s a shame it was somehow lost in the shadow of “What’s Up?”.
The opening track, “Train,” is a rockin’ n’ rollin’ bluesy thrill ride that instantly stole this Southern girl’s heart while feel-good tracks like “Superfly” and “Calling All the People” blend funk with alt-rock. The grit of “Morphine & Chocolate” makes me think Perry may just be the godmother of the emo bands I kept on repeat a decade later. The band has a Zepplin-esque ability to blend blues with rock– a sound also heard on “Old Mr. Heffer” which speaks to homelessness and inequality with a rebellious punk attitude.
In the same manner, “Dear Mr. President” speaks to the social issues of poverty, drugs, and those who capitalize on the less fortunate, asking, “Dear Mr. President, won’t you hand me a future?” When I played the album before writing this article, I was struck by how we’re still speaking about the same issues 3 decades and 4 Presidents later.
In under 45 minutes and less than a dozen tracks, Bigger, Better, Faster, More! defined the angst of ’90s female alt-rock. Sadly, the group dissolved in 1994 while recording their second studio album with Perry choosing to go solo and eventually writing and producing for other iconic female leads of the era, including Courtney Love and Gwen Stefani. The band’s influence as the essence of ’90s girl power continues to inspire female singers and songwriters to this day.