Distorted, discordant and dramatic: Goat Girl have been utilizing their own brand of confrontational indie rock to voice their political opinions since their arrival on the music scene almost five years ago.
Their self-titled debut album, released in 2018, brimmed to overspill with brash guitar, heavy basslines, and confident vocals, and made no secret of the band’s desire to make sure their voices were heard. Three years later, On All Fours, the group’s second studio album, set for release via Rough Trade Records this Friday 29 January, takes what initially appears to be a very different approach. Despite its composition of gentler acoustic guitar melodies and subtle vocals, the trademark distorted twangy guitar riffs and sinister sounding synths still creep into every track, and suggest old resentments still bubble away under the surface.
‘Pest’ opens the album with subdued vocals, gentle harmonies and acoustic guitar strums, but it’s not long before ripples of synth patterns are introduced, adding an alien, surreal tone to the track. The lyrics, “I have no shame when I say step the fuck away” mirror the title, revealing the track’s nature as a cloaked warning ballad, warding off potential predators under the guise of a clever indie rock song.
‘The Crack’ tackles global warming and climate change, the almost child-like vocals contrasting the hard-hitting lyrics, “Cracks form when the earth’s torn/ Can’t go back”, imparting a story of a human race so unwilling to attempt to fix the mess they’ve created that they leave for another planet.
Mental health is also an extremely prominent issue explored on the album. The upbeat, indie guitar rock of most recent single, ‘Badibaba’ is underscored once again by discordant synth patterns, the lyrics “Leave all sadness underground/ Shove it somewhere we won’t see” paired with the repetition of the track’s title creating a sense of chaos and disillusionment. ‘Once Again’ and ‘Sad Cowboy’ also hint at themes of mental illness, and the surreal, almost game-like synth and brass sounds of ‘P.T.S.Tea’ feel deeply unsettling and disturbing.
An honest, isolated vocal signals the start of ‘Anxiety Feels’, the downbeat, steady percussion mirroring the lyrics “I don’t wanna be on those pills/ They make you numb” and conveying the monotone, grey feeling that can be produced as a side effect of anti-anxiety medication.
Although lacking the confrontational boldness of their debut, don’t let Goat Girl’s second offering have you fooled. Behind the gentle melodies and comforting harmonies stir hard-hitting lyrics and uneasy compositions that give the album a charmingly jarring feel. At the end of it all, if On All Fours proves anything, it’s that Goat Girl don’t need aggression to be politically astute.
On All Fours by Goat Girl is out Friday 29th January, you can listen to it here