Four days ago, The Orwells frontman Mario Cuomo self-released a new album only months after his name was featured in an anonymous Google Doc accusing three of the indie band’s members of sexual misconduct and homophobia.
The album was quietly released through The Orwells Reddit page. The cover shows a blank rectangle with a note explaining they couldn’t afford to use the original album art after getting dropped by their label. Though it’s a reference to a World Industries ad from the ‘90s, The Orwells are really using the image to say it’s not their fault they couldn’t release their album the way the wanted to—it’s the alleged victims’ fault for going public with the accusations that made their label drop them. And releasing it via Reddit, where the infamous Google Doc first appeared, sends a message as well.
I was reluctant to up the click count of a band accused of such disturbing behavior, but as a music journalist, I was obligated to press play. The sound is more emotional than their usual vibe, with slower melodies and more intricate harmonies. With track titles like “No Apologies,” “Parade of Legs” and “Mean Motherfucker” it felt like a whiny attempt at redemption.
Fans are divided. None of the members were indicted and they’ve denied the allegations and many fans still stand by them while others believe the texts and photos in the Google Doc are proof enough to believe the alleged victims.
In the Reddit thread for the album release, fans excited for the new album battle for control of the narrative with posters who don’t want the allegations against the band forgotten or ignored. After a comment reading, “you know they’re sexual abusers right,” a poster responded “nope and neither do you. Get a life and stop beating off to shit you know nothing about.”
Another commenter wrote, “Whether the allegations are true or not, releasing the album like this is the most punk thing ever,” followed by the response, “there’s nothing punk about being a rapist.”
Some fans weren’t sure how to feel about the band, with one writing, “I wish I could hear this without feeling uneasy… I know they are just accusations, but that uncertainty that hangs around their music just upsets me.”
In the anonymous document, Cuomo was accused of sexual misconduct, sending unsolicited nudes to and demanding nudes from underage girls and frequently using homophobic language. The band broke up less than a week after the allegations were made public, so it’s unclear which band members participated in this album other than Cuomo.