Goat Girl - Goat Girl - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Goat Girl - Goat Girl

by Mark Moody Rating:8 Release Date:2018-04-06
Goat Girl debut album
Goat Girl debut album

In putting together a debut album a band could either try and win over their audience with a variety of musical approaches, tempos, and vocal styles, or go down a narrow rabbit hole and keep digging away.  South London’s Goat Girl are squarely in the latter camp on their self-titled debut and the hole they journey down is not well lit.  Don’t expect them to play the role of cheerful tour guide either.  With nineteen tracks spread over forty minutes their songs are decidedly brief, but far from the economy of post-punk.  Rather they are gloriously muddy messes that echo former tour mates The Fall or even early No Wave band Ut, particularly in lead vocalist Lottie’s caterwaul or drummer Rosy Bones’ primitive pounding of the toms.  Joined by lead guitar player Ellie and bassist Naima, the band members’ pseudonyms seem to change more frequently than their chosen musical path.  The album benefits from Goat Girl’s preceding two year resume of touring shows with the band given the opportunity to refine (if that’s the right word for tortured art) their live to tape takes on display here.

In addition to fourteen songs, there are five instrumental “interludes” in the Brecht-ian/Waits-ian broken calliope mode, one of which starts the album.  But things start in earnest with the false acoustic front of ‘Burn the Stake’, which as its name implies begins the band’s deconstruction of most everything - whether that be musically or lyrically.  Lottie tears down most every political party and hypocrisy while questioning why now is not the time to scrap it all.  The band comes right out with their yowling affront with cutting guitar licks upping the sense of dread.  There’s not much dipping in of the toe here, so you’re likely in or out from the get go.

Within the confines of their approach there are some definite standouts and varying shades of muddiness.  The bouncy grunge of both ‘Cracker Drool’ and ‘The Man with No Heart or Brain’ are early highlights with the first picking up a hazy energy as it goes and the second barely trudging through ninety seconds of sludge.  The latter song is one of many taking swipes at the masculine gender - whether that be targeting the ‘Creep’ on the train which swirls with atonal strings or the more energetic ‘Man’ with its surf rock power chords, droll sarcasm and caught in the act lyric - “watch your eyes, watching my thighs”. 

Other highlights include Ellie’s shredded psych/country soloing on ‘Slowly Reclines’, while Lottie closes out the song in pained wails with the band adding some eerie “ooh ahh” harmonies.  The understated and rhythm heavy ‘Throw Me a Bone’ recall PJ Harvey at her most downcast and stateliest.  But the album reaches its peak on the reworked and woefully too short scorcher of ‘Country Sleaze’.  Lottie puts herself on equal footing with who she has despised elsewhere - ‘I’m disgusting, I’m a shame’.  The song won’t be serving as theme song for any self-esteem award ceremonies, but Naima’s rubbery bass lines giving way to razor sharp guitar licks make the ideal “poster child” for the brilliance of their approach.  Even the seemingly tuneful respite of the obscure Bugsy Malone soundtrack cover of ‘Tomorrow’ lets in little light.  With the birdsong tweeting things out at the end sounding more ponderous than joyful.

Whether Goat Girl continues tunneling out the same labyrinthine warren they have started here, like The Fall did for forty years, or they surface and explore new paths, they are off to an auspicious beginning.  By not just stepping into the mire, but willingly writhing around in it, Goat Girl are exploding myths and molds that, sadly, continually need to be shattered.  First step for you is to get past the lost souls on Miguel Casarrubios' dire cover art.  But be forewarned if you venture to take a taste of the grotty gruel of cracker drool that Goat Girl has to offer, you might just like it and end up hating yourself in the morning.  

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