With a renewed approach to structuring their songs and a fresh desire to improvise and enjoy the music they’re making, Goat Girl have channelled their joys and frustrations via electronics and FX pedals on their second album On All Fours. Released via Rough Trade Records, this new offering retains the band’s trademark cynical charm, whilst offering listeners a route to escapism through jazz-infused beats and soft vocal melodies.
Guitarist & vocalist Lottie Pendlebury’s calm delivery of mantra-like lyric “I have no shame when I say / step the fuck away” on opener ‘Pest’ epitomises the defiant, dancing tone of On All Fours. Inspired by the colonialist undertones of 2018’s tabloid newspapers who dubbed a storm that hit the UK as the “beast from the east,” the track laments western society’s dangerous habit of “othering” any issues it falsely believes it’s not responsible for – making it the “pest from the west” that Pendlebury sings of.
As with their 2018 self-titled debut album, Goat Girl’s left-wing sensibilities are at the forefront of their song-writing, but they’ve made space for carefree tunes on their new record too. The playfully named ‘Badibaba’ bubbles with jazzy electronics and eccentric time signatures, while ‘Jazz (In The Supermarket)’ showcases how the band’s jamming sessions have blossomed into organised, erratic sounds. The infectiously upbeat ‘Once Again’ and the swaggering rhythms on ‘Sad Cowboy’ and ‘The Crack’ punctuate the album with a light-hearted, but tenacious attitude.
While ‘P.T.S.Tea’ is a fun play on words, it’s underscored by drummer Rosy Jones’ distressing memory of being on tour in 2019. Jones was badly scalded after a random man on a ferry spilled tea on their arm, leaving Jones unable to complete the rest of the band’s dates. The man never apologised, so ‘P.T.S.Tea’ is an aural scald on male accountability and privilege, as well as an exploration of Jones’ own gender identity, reflected in the lyric “to say what I am / well I don’t have a clue.” Jones’ gaze was also fixed on the reversal of gender normative roles when they penned closing track ‘A-Men’ too.
The swirling sounds on ‘Closing In’ are a vibrant personification of Pendlebury’s own struggles with depression, while following track ‘Anxiety Feels’ gives a gentle insight into bassist Ellie Davies’ crippling panic attacks. Her lyrical musings on medication and dealing with negative thought patterns are delivered with tender sincerity. Both songs explore gruelling subjects with genuine charm and care.
The parasitic ‘They Bite On You’ bleeds into the explosively named ‘Bang’, on which Pendlebury extrapolates on the nature of her ego. The woozy sounds of ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ were born from a weekend retreat where the band spent their time writing, drinking and mocking the intensity of such an ambiguous question. Sweet self-deprecating moments like this galvanized the sound of On All Fours. Goat Girl’s ability to make their second album feel like a light listen despite the contexts of their songs being rooted in difficulty, is a refreshing and admirable quality for band releasing new music in an already tumultuous new year.
Listen to Goat Girls’ new album On All Fours here.
If you like the sound of Goat Girl’s new album, you can read more about what inspired them to make it in my interview with them for The Line Of Best Fit.
Photo Credit: Holly Whitaker