EP: Goth Lipstick – ‘formless, shapeless’

An EP that the band describe as “a slice-of-life isekai about the adventures of two wraiths”, formless, shapeless from San Francisco’s DIY emo duo Goth Lipstick draws you effortlessly into their candy-coated, glitch-splattered dream world. Following their full length album crystalline corset from earlier this year, formless, shapeless continues to explore themes of identity and queer liberation.

The EP consists of fairly short tracks, with most lasting less than two minutes thirty seconds. The single exception is ‘faceless, nameless’, which reaches a whole four minutes. Every track is incredibly tightly constructed. None of them feel too short; each one feels exactly long enough to tell its story and then wraps without wasting any time, leaving you with the precise impression it wanted to convey.

The collection begins with the titular ‘formless, shapeless’ – a slow, soft rumble that leads into quick, clicking percussion under high chirpy keys and husky vocals. While the tempo, energy and general style of the tracks vary, this opening song establishes some key elements early on that are consistent through the EP.

As a whole, the EP creates a distinctly unique and endlessly interesting soundscape, blending distorted and electronic sounds with gentle, clear piano notes. The relationship between the different types of sound is key to the Goth Lipstick style, with acoustic and electric notes dancing playfully around each other, with those echoing vocals floating over the top.

The use of glitches too gives these songs so much character. The jerks and digital stumbles always hit at exactly the right moment, whether that’s ripping into a vocal that’s well into its stride or distorting sounds that are just starting to build, creating a more chaotic journey from the first couple of beats.

Whilst there are massive differences in feeling from track to track, they fit so well together that they flow beautifully.

The second track, ‘wraiths awake’, brings a bigger energy into the EP. It is broadly more upbeat, but winds down into vocals that have a sense of vulnerability about them, before bouncing back into the hyped electronica.

‘identity thief’, all heavy growling, glitching bass, is followed by the light and chirpy ‘chocolate’, then the rich swollen beats of ‘fangs’, which wouldn’t be out of place heard on a nightclub dance-floor at midnight.

Somehow these seemingly conflicting songs sit very comfortably side by side on this EP. It feels much more like this is down to a matter of attitude than any one particular technical component. The songs sit so well because they feel made to be played together, and you can feel how much fun the artists had constructing every beat of the finished product.

It’s so easy to get drawn into Goth Lipstick’s story, to bathe in the cool, flowing emotions heavy in this EP. It’s not surprising to see that the first edition cassette run is already sold out.

formless, shapeless, the latest EP from Goth Lipstick, is out now. It is available to download via bandcamp.

Kirstie Summers
@ActuallyKurt

EP: all cats are beautiful – ‘the things we made’

Released at the beginning of the month via Moshi Moshi, all cats are beautiful’s latest EP the things we made provides a heartfelt, off-kilter take on pop in the twenty first century with a beautifully developed sense of melody and texture. Where more self-conscious artists might have slipped into irony or even parody when playing with genre in the way this record does, the honesty and vulnerability of the lyrics instead steer it down a far more rewarding path; one that combines the hooks and emotional kick of the best pop with a willingness to experiment, keeping the listener guessing.

The band consists of “queer best friends” Elena and Kyle and this seven track release has a truly collaborative feel to it. Both are credited with playing multiple instruments and switch vocal duties throughout, while the way that the songs have been pieced together – often relatively sparse arrangements which sound nonetheless full of feeling – seems, somehow, reflective of the process of sending and receiving musical ideas across the internet during lockdown. The opening track of the EP – ‘(u know) u mean a long minute 2 me’, in which the lyrics apparently came from Kyle mishearing a line of dialogue in Netflix docu-series Tiger King, a fact that in itself makes the early-lockdown writing period extremely clear – was also the EP’s lead single. It sets the scene for what follows beautifully: a long, soft, introduction to the record which finally kicks into gear with the introduction of drums about two and a half minutes in, shifting from atmospheric pop to a shimmering lowkey take on disco.

If you’ve ever wondered (and I’m not sure why you would) what it would sound like if The XX tried their talented hands at making early 2000s slow jams, it might not sound a million miles away from ‘u c right thru me like a windowpane’. Certainly the atmospherics and soft vocal delivery which The XX made their trademark is evident here, but ACAB have far greater warmth in their lyrics and have more fully embraced pop sensibilities. So, in fact, a comparison to XX solo project Romy is probably more apt. The band themselves credit Owen Pallett’s ‘I Am Not Afraid’ as an inspiration for this track and the connection extends beyond a lyrical reference – both treat genre with the same flexibility while remaining refreshingly earnest. Julia Holter is another useful melodic reference point for the EP as a whole.

Other highlights include the rolling melodies of ‘skippin down the stairs like a slinky’ and the Blood Orange-esque ‘i get dayblindness when ur nearby’ which skitters along, built around a chorus to make connoisseurs of 2010s R’n’B swoon. Meanwhile, EP-closer ‘tryna b the 1 2 solve ur shape’ is the kind of ambient-inspired pop which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Frank Ocean’s Blonde

There has clearly been a great deal of care taken in the construction of these songs – in their lyrics, their melodies, their arrangements and their recording and engineering. As a result, there isn’t a loose moment across the seven tracks; not a wasted or superfluous second, just twenty two and a half minutes of wonderfully imperfect pop.

the things we made, the new EP from all cats are beautiful, is out now via Moshi Moshi Records. Listen/download here.

Gregory Metcalfe
@GregorysParty

Photo Credit: Aaron Price

Video Premiere: Meggie Brown – ‘Angel Like You’

Having been named as one of The Guardian’s ‘Artists For 2020’, and being championed by the likes of Iggy Pop and Alex Kapranos, North London based artist Meggie Brown has previously charmed our ears with the scuzzy energy of ‘Dusty Smells‘. Now, with their new EP set for release next month, they have shared a brand new video to accompany their stirring single, ‘Angel Like You’.

Propelled by twinkling hooks and a lilting energy, ‘Angel Like You’ offers an exquisite reflection on the beauty of intimacy. With its poignant lyricism, it oozes a captivating allure as it ripples with an effervescent emotion and chiming musicality. Maintaining Brown’s deadpan-yet-poetic ruminations, with shades of the likes of Aussie favourite Courtney Barnett, it flows with a dreamy, majestic haze.

Of the beautiful accompanying video, director Sim Gray explains:

“A psychedelic cult, fairytale, astral projection, daydream – a queer, shapeshifting collaboration with Sim Gray, Bianca Scout, The Creature Fleur, Shivani Thussu, Sokora Xilber and Lucy Marie. Wildflowers on the horizon, dancing through each season, whatever the weather. Softness gets crushed into dust, or lost, guided away from the crossroads. A zone of flowers flattened down, the pathway into a shadowed forest.”


‘Angel Like You’ is taken from Meggie Brown’s upcoming EP Home. Written and recorded with Sunny Robertson at Float Rock Home Studio, with backing band Forrest Flowers and long time music companion and drummer Kayleigh Cheer, it explores themes of gender identity and reflects on Brown’s feelings surrounding recently coming out as Transgender.

Home is set for release on 24th September.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

ALBUM: Nun Habit – ‘hedge fun’

There is nothing about Nun Habit’s debut album hedge fun that would suggest it was recorded in a single hasty weekend between lockdowns. The band describe it as “a rejection of the corporate and mundane and a celebration of everything there is to love about queer DIY music”. They have absolutely lived up to that description in every beat of this record.

The album opens with the smooth, relaxed ‘Slip N Slide’. Deep, gentle notes ease you into the track, with burbling synths and warm vocals dancing around a rich bass line. This sets the scene for the rest of the album, which is constructed expertly out of the band’s signature synth and string combo playing over that rumbling bass. ‘Slip N Slide’ builds into a powerful climax, launching effortlessly into the high energy of ‘Marigolds’.

hedge fun fluctuates in terms of pace and energy. The tracks fit together comfortably, creating a vibe that ebbs and flows with a natural rhythm. Some tracks slow right down so that they feel more like beat poetry, with a gentle pace and cool beats. Others match the fast pace and high energy of ‘Marigolds’, with that raw screaming sound that sweeps you up into a chaotically wonderful whirlwind of synths and drums.

The real magic of this album is how much emotion is packed into every note sang – every vocal note is heavy with expression, whether it’s one of the more nonchalant tracks or the roaring impactful ones.

‘TinderHingeHer’ in particular takes you on an emotional rollercoaster just through its energy. It begins cool and laid-back, as you swipe aimlessly through dating app profiles, at first casual. But it soon ramps up into a raw, emotional cry as you go through the motions getting increasingly desperate to find someone to connect with.

Lyrically, the album touches on so many aspects of contemporary life and the feelings they inspire, both the happy and difficult. hedge fun captures that rare place where emotions intersect – where they clash and where they reach a fleeting sense of harmony, before you’re plunged back into the overwhelming cacophony of reality.

Finally, the collection ends on one of the more relaxed-sounding tracks – the poignant, short-but-sweet ‘One More’ – reflecting on the ups and downs of relationships with the band’s trademark honesty and wit.

hedge fun showcases all there is to love about Nun Habit and their knack for fusing together an eclectic mix of both musical genres and lyrical subject matter in the most uplifting of ways. A cheering sonic exploration that demands multiple listens, and will leave you looking forward with uncertainty but optimism for what this band are going to do next.

Listen to, and buy, hedge fun on bandcamp here.

Kirstie Summers
@ActuallyKurt