Horsey share new single “Seahorse” featuring King Krule, announce debut album

Photo by Reuben Bastienne-Lewis

Horsey have today shared new single “Seahorse” featuring Archie Marshall (King Krule) on vocals, as well as an accompanying visualiser created by Jack Marshall. The new track comes along with the announcement of their debut album Debonair set to be released in the summer via Untitled Records.

Made up of Jacob Read, Theo Mccabe, Jack Marshall and George Bass, Horsey have built a cult live following having toured with the likes of King Krule, Goat Girl and Hinds, as well as playing sold-out shows across their hometown venues with the likes of YOWL, Hotel Lux, Norman, Ugly, Lazarus Kane and more. The new single follows their hyperactive album opener “Sippy Cup”, which was released as a standalone single earlier this year.

This is the first new music King Krule has released/ featured on since his album Man Alive! was released last February.

Listen to the new single below!

Tracklist:


1. Sippy Cup
2. Arms & Legs
3. Underground
4. Everyone’s Tongue
5. Wharf
6. Lagoon
7. Clown
8. 1070
9. Leaving Song
10. Seahorse (ft. King Krule)

Squid – Bright Green Field Album Review

WARP Records – 2021

White boy summer is certainly looking exciting this year. Another of the Windmill Brixton generation have brought about a whole albums offering of material, following the likes of Black Country, New Road’s For The First Time, Shame’s Drunk Tank Pink, Goat Girl’s On All Fours and Black Midi’s upcoming Cavalcade. This sense of intertwined musicianship not only follows the band outside of their own collective but throughout this album. With features coming from the likes of BCNR’s Lewis Evans on saxophone as well as having Speedy Wunderground’s own mastermind of sound Dan Carey on production duties. This album is in every aspect a working of five brilliant minds coming together to create expansive, ever twisting and shifting and at times outright cathartic works of art.

For a few years now it’s felt as though these so called ‘guitar bands’ have had much more creative freedom when it comes to finding a sound that is truly theres. Gone are the days where everyone had to sound like the eternally reachable yet ultimately bland Franz Ferdinand or Arctic Monkeys to even consider breaking into the charts, let alone top them. But now the time of self-sound is here. And Squid are very much making the music they want to. Although “Boy Racer” may have all the quirky licks and upbeat drive of a mid-2000’s era Foals track to begin with, it soon descends into a synth-wave, ambient, noise rock outro that washes over like a lucid fever dream.

The band have said before that their approach to this album came by sending different aspects of songs back and forth to each other online, eventually to all be layered and structured together. And this sewing together of movements and sounds is what makes this album so enticing. On “G.S.K” the band piles together sleek bass lines, funky beats and sly saxophone hooks to create a piece that is ever twisting and turning; becoming more infatuating with each and every change. All tied together with drummer and lead vocalist Ollie Judge’s unhinged vocal cries. At first the vocal styles that Judge chooses can often seem too over the top or even obnoxious. But you soon begin to realise as this album progresses that Judge is displaying and incredible amount of control and natural charm in an almost brutalist fashion. This isn’t the most heavy sounding music to sing along to but Judge brings an assured helping of anxiety that just pumps raw nervous energy into every sound. I don’t think you’ll find a more distraught reading of the weather than on “Documentary Filmmaker”.

One of the greatest showcases of the band’s succinctness comes in the form of lead single “Narrator”. Over its 8 and a half minute course the band manages to capture a sound that can only be described as a tumultuous breakdown. Over sparkly guitar lines and tapered beats Judge sings of being in control of his life “Losing my flow and my memories are so unnatural, I am my own narrator” he declares with an unhinged discourse. Moving into slasher flick punctuated guitar strikes the band slowly builds up this sense of dread washing over the track, all whilst being perfectly smoothed over by Martha Sky Murphy’s spoken passages that are delivered as if these are your last rites. Eventually devolving into an all out nightmare. With Judge’s repeated delivery of “I play my!” you can’t help feel like you’re on the edge of sanity, eventually falling in as Murphy’s horrifying screams soundtrack your descent.

Lyrically the band like to leave a shroud of mystery over what stories are really being told, not ones to pull back the veil. The title itself comes from the ever looming gentrification and industrialisation of otherwise natural parts of the country. But it’s not only the ravaging of natural beauty that the band touch on, they also question the growing feeling of numbness to global events. “What’s your favourite war on TV? Just before you go to sleep, And then your favourite sitcom, Watch the tears roll down your cheek” asks Judge on “Global Groove”. And on closer “Pamphlets” the anxiety of social acceptance overwhelms Judge as he sings “I’ve got a brand new car right out my drive, But there’s pale bricks and white smiles, It’s why I don’t go outside”. You can’t compare so there’s no point trying to appease.

This album has everything you could want from a debut and more. It perfectly showcases every minute of detail the band meticulously places into their music, whilst leaving room for overly catchy and intoxicating choruses. They take influence from every genre under the sun and weld them all together into an automobile of sound that is ever chugging forward. They have made the perfect springboard for wherever and whatever they want to go and do next. It seems there’s no limits to what Squid can be and we hope there never will be.

JayWood – Some Days EP Review

Captured Tracks – 2021

Coming as a debut in two senses, with this being Jeremy Haywood-Smith’s first major label release under Captured Tracks. And also being initially the first project that Haywood-Smith wrote and recorded, back in 2015. In our interview with him he said that due to the uncertainty of releasing new music at the moment he wanted to go back and revisit this project to bring it up to date with the current JayWood sound. And that is exactly what this EP stands as. It simultaneously brings JayWood’s early roots of bedroom pop and lo-fi recordings to a new refined and defined sound and showcases what’s next for this upcoming

The most major update is title track “Some Days” that now bolsters a super slick groove, undying beat and meticulously cool guitar lines. As each movement rolls past on this song you’re left in awe just how much magic is being layered on through the swirling soundscapes, it’s easy to get lost in the mystifying world that JayWood creates. Over a river of synthesisers and funk-infused bass lines Haywood-Smith looks on in hope for those better days, “I swear i’m not broken, I’m just a little bit lost, With a little guidance i’ll find the cause” he declares. It’s this juxtaposition of upbeat rhythm and tender lyrics that just adds another layer of brilliance to this sound. The original version of this track also gets added almost as a bonus at the end of the EP and its inspiring to see just how far Haywood-Smith has come from those raw early days. The tenderness of this is almost mirrored in “Dreams” as Haywood-Smith strips back the sound to incorporate only swaying guitars and slow plucked guitars. Paired with Haywood-Smith’s charming melodies, this track takes you into the clouds and guides you along the path of trying to finding hope.

Haywood-Smith’s psychedelia inspirations of UMO and Tame Impala come out in the track “Creep” through phaser smothered guitar lines and funk infused beats. There’s an underlying unease to this track that breaks out in short bursts of guitar riffs and synthesiser swirls but is carried by Haywood-Smith’s naturally cool vocal styles. The funk and jazz sound that Haywood-Smith is incorporating in this newfound sound makes a final appearance on “What You Do To Me”. It’s breezy, easy to listen to and will have you bopping your head along to its infatuating groove. Through subtle harmonies and a glorious ending breakdown Haywood-Smith finishes the EP as it started, impassioned and full of bravado. Keen ears will also hear a nod to a certain famous guitar solo by another fellow Canadian indie rocker.

The JayWood project is one that has continued to evolve from the very early lo-fi days, to his bedroom-pop and radio station inspired debut album Time. And now with this project Haywood-Smith has brought everything up to speed, building himself a diving board for both listeners to dive into his captivating world and himself to swim out into the ocean of sounds that are waiting for him to mould together.

JayWood is constantly evolving

Photo by Carly Boomer

JayWood is the musical project of Winnipeg, Canada based artist Jeremy Haywood-Smith that at its core is ultimately infectious in every moment. His styles range from bedroom-pop, funk, jazz, indie-rock, psychedelic pop and just about anything in between. But the true enticement of JayWood comes from diving deep into the soundscapes he creates, with embellishments and subtle flairs of genius striking up within every corner. He’s now taken his next step into musical glory after signing with New York indie powerhouse Captured Tracks, whose roster has included the likes of Mac DeMarco, Juan Wauters, Diiv and Becca Mancari. His new EP Some Days will be his first major label release which was originally written and recorded in 2015 as his first venture of recorded music. Revisiting the EP he’s added new flavours of funk and undying grooves to bring the songs in line with the modern JayWood sound. We spoke to Jeremy ahead of the release to learn about the EP and his evolution as an artist.

The EP was originally written and recorded in 2015, what made you come back to it all these years later?

With everything going in with the pandemic and everyone stuck at home I was just sitting in the present and thinking about the past and I thought “Well i don’t wanna be doing something that is uncertain, like new music for right now” and I was just very much feeling a lot of writers block at the same time as well. Two things to do in that situation were just record covers or just revamp old ideas. So I thought i’d rather just polish off the first JayWood ideas that were not really done that well the first time and just give them a new life. As well as honouring the past and just reconnecting with that time when I was just writing pretty much every single day and getting into that mindset. Funnily enough it really helped with working on new music after that. I just found myself sitting in the past a lot and that’s what really spurred the idea to re-record those old songs.

At the time of writing the EP you were going through a lot of transitions, was the EP a way of documenting those or was it more of an outlet?

Yeah I definitely think both as some of those things were happening as I was writing it and some of those things were past and were done but I hadn’t really vented them out or really made sense of them. It was really like a journal entry. There are lot more songs on the original version but on this version I thought that I didn’t really need all the excess crap that’s not really doing much. It was just a way to vent and just track my thoughts because everything just felt like I didn’t really feel like I had my footing in anything at the time so working on the EP was a nice way to stay grounded and see what I was thinking at that time. And also reflect and make sense of that time.

To initially record the EP was something that took you out of your comfort zone, did coming back to the EP take you out of your comfort zone as well?

I think going back to it, it felt not necessarily out of comfort but definitely felt like I was taken back. I was almost re-learning how to play songs so it almost felt like I was making new songs on top of things that already existed. So it was just a weird getting into that mindset as well, so what was I thinking when I was singing these lyrics, what was I going through, putting some emotion into that. I think as well at that time as well the music was a lot more vulnerable too. In a sense I was getting out of my comfort zone by getting into that mindset where I was just saying what I wanted to. After that EP started to hide what I was really trying to say by adding more effects or being as vague as possible. It was definitely more of form of discomfort in just speaking your truth and being honest. And what I took from that is that I should just honour that way more in newer writing and just being honest in what I want to say.

Going from the bedroom pop sounds of Time your last album to the new EP there’s a lot more elements of funk and jazz within, what made you move over to this style?

I think when I first started writing music I was just trying to write what was popular at the time. Back in early 2014/15 Mac DeMarco was huge, Real Estate, all those types of bands were really big. So I thought I should really try to make music like this because it’s the popular way to go. But it was never really natural for me and it felt like I was forcing it out of myself and I didn’t really like it. So when I stopped and assessed and thought “What do I want to write? What comes natural to me?” and what i’m currently doing now was kind of the first thing to happen. So I thought “Alright it’s like the path of the least resistance” and I didn’t want to fight that and I kind of just went with it and continued to experiment and continued to dive deeper into what i’m interested in making. I think there’s definitely elements of jazz and funk and psych and all these things I like. I just try and take little bits and pieces of all the music I like so that’s where my current style came from.

What inspirations did you draw from for this sound?

Definitely Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the time and Neon Indian’s third album Vega Intl. Night School was the most important album I was listening to in 2015. I also got really into Tame Impala early in 2015, just after Currents came out so that was the album of my summer. And my biggest inspiration always and forever is Gorillaz and that’s a project that’s constantly changing. I’ve always loved that idea but I never thought I could do that, then I thought “Oh wait, there aren’t any rules when you do music your own way and at your own pace”. You know I can do that and I can constantly be re-inventing and changing what I want to do and it doesn’t need to be this whole thing, it can just be part of my ethos. I was definitely still listening to the bands that were really popular at the time, but i was just trying to not make what they were making. Anything that was really capturing something for me.

That evolution of sound, is that something you look for when writing new material?

When I start a new project I got to the idea of “What haven’t I done yet that I want to try?” which is the big thing. I listened back to my old music a lot when I’m working on new music, so I can think “this is where i’ve been, where am I trying to go?”. I often just don’t listen to anything at that time when I’m writing, I don’t listen to any new music. And then after thinking what haven’t I done I become fully uncomfortable when working on new music. So i think “This sounds a lot like something I shouldn’t be doing” but then i’m like “Alright I’m just gonna go with it and hope for the best” haha.

I often have ideas that aren’t necessarily songs or sound ideas, just like concepts where I think “I want a really jammy song” or “I want a song thats only four chords all the way through or just stuff like that. And I think just having little challenges for myself just keeps me connected to what i’m making at the time.

I can definitely here that on the EP, with “Some Days” being jazz and funk infused, then going into “Dreams” with the tender sweeping string section.

Yeah for the EP I just really liked the contrast of going from one thing to another thing, then back to another and another. I think “Some Days” and “What You Do To Me” have a similar vibe to them, but everything in the middle has something different so it just feels like a nice full package.

Going into the EP you were writing the first thing that came to your mind, is that an ethos you still keep today?

At that time music was just pouring out of me and I was constantly creative and it was so easy. Now my old mind is just working against me to some degree. I feel like it takes a little longer to get an idea fully formed, but as soon as I have one part the rest will come a lot easier. Music kind of happens away from instruments for me, like i’ll be going about my day and I’ll hear a melody in my head and then think “Okay now i just have to find that sound” and then I have to build around that sound and then I can see a song forming. I try to use that first idea and try it out and incorporate new ideas and then rework it if it doesn’t work with the new ideas.

What’s it like now having signed to Captured Tracks and releasing your music alongside a fantastic roster of artists?

It’s still very much surreal to me. Obviously a lot of the artists at the time of originally writing were the biggest influences for me and to put it out years later on the label feels just like a complete full circle moment, just like “Holy shit that’s so cool” haha. It’s been really really great, everyone at the label has been amazing and I just feel very much part of a team and i’m incredibly grateful to be a part of Captured Tracks and i’m just super excited now. Obviously with releasing old music, it’s old to me but it’s new to everyone else and my mindset when it was done was thinking “I wonder if people will even respond to it well” but getting the response from everyone at the label and people listening to it for the first time is just very affirming to be like “I need to get on my own way a bit”. It’s been really great to have everyone hype you up and be your biggest support and just think “nice this is a cool moment in time for sure”.

Do you think it’s helped having the first release on the label something older to give people a taste of your sound?

100%. I was really nervous at the prospect of putting out a first album as being a new artist, but putting out an EP of old music is like “Okay i’ve got my footing, got myself a win” and it’s a great introduction. It starts people at the very beginning of this project so now I can work my way up to be current with everything. And now i’m super excited for the next project to come after this one because that confidence boost was everything. It just gave me time to really tinker and tweak on some new ideas and really feel good about everything.

I looked back at your soundcoloud and saw some old Mac DeMarco covers on there, what does his music mean to you?

I think with Mac it was the fact that he’s Canadian and i’m Canadian because for music you don’t see a lot of Canadians doing the cool big things that Americans can do. Like playing festivals to people or just touring around the world. That was the biggest thing seeing a Canadian artist that’s well renowned both in Canada and America. It’s a do it yourself approach. He just seems like a very approachable human being doing music. The music was just something that I didn’t think I would normally like, it just kind of happened that I really enjoy this for some reason and that’s really special where on paper I shouldn’t like this music but I love it. And I thought that I had to really honour whatever this is doing for me. His approach to music just seemed really effortless, but he also seemed like he was really hard working so I thought if I applied myself then i could do something like that. I think his evolution over time has been really inspiring to see, just see him come to form where it’s like “I can do the fun stuff and I can still be myself” within that without having to be the crazy character that everyone thinks.

Do you have a favourite release of his?

Salad Days was the one that really did it for me. But I think Another One was a really special one as it came out in 2015, which was really when I thought I was gonna commit to JayWood. The timing of it as well, I was having a great time and it was on the other end of Some Days where things were getting better and it was just really refreshing. It felt like a release that felt comfortable for him. I think at that point he was touring for 2 years for Salad Days and he was just like “here’s some new music”. So I was just like “Oh perfect thank you”. So that ones sentimental to me, it has a very nice by the water feel.

The reason I ask is because there’s a guitar solo at the end of your song “What You Do To Me” that sounds very familiar.

Ode To Viceroy! Yeah that’s exactly what it was haha! It was definitely a nod and that was exactly where my headspace was at and I didn’t want to shy away from it either. That whole ending part was me just saying “I want to do my own version of Ode To Viceroy”. Doing and ode to Ode To Viceroy in a song, making it a very meta moment and I had a lot of fun with it and I hope I don’t get shit on by people haha. It’s meant be very meta.

It’s a really fun addition just hearing that littler easter egg within it!

It’s so cool you caught that!

On the cover of the EP aswell as your last album you’re with an owl character, does that represent anything?

I never liked the idea of it just being myself on the cover, that’s just not me. I just don’t like being the biggest centre of attention. So creating a character that’s just an extension of myself just helps break the attention. Kind of like what Gorillaz is essentially where it’s a cartoon band and then music behind it. So it’s like i’m the music and this character is something within the project as well. As well as making stories and bridging parallels with this character has been really fun. I named them Walter to give them more life as well. It’s been really fun to figure out what to do with them, putting them into different mediums. My goal in the future is to have them appear in a cartoon or a comic strip and just extend on whatever this JayWood project becomes, it’s just having something alongside it to alleviate attention, just make it fun and keep it artsy in a way. So it’s a person but it’s also a very creative project and i’m excited to see what becomes more of Walter.

Do you think having Walter just gives you more freedom to say “Oh no hits them doing the music”.

Exactly! It distracts a bit and it moves me out of the full formed spotlight. Having them alongside me is just a cool juxtaposition I think, it’s strange but also something humanising.

What’s it like releasing this music at the moment without having live shows to back it up?

I think for this release in particular it’s been kinda nice as the whole label announcement, the music, the music video, all this stuff would have been very overwhelming for me if i’d have to go on tour as well. So to have a nice soft release where it’s just having some music and some video content, getting to know me. I’m settling into the label a lot more and by the time the next release happens and hopefully things are a lot more open and safe i’ll be really ready to go on the road.

After just performing nonstop it for a while just felt like I was losing the attachment and losing the excitement from it, so getting that back now and getting that confidence and excitement to perform again, especially with the support behind now is perfect. I want to build that up as much as possible so when it’s time to perform again then every shows gonna be better than the last and everyone’s equally excited as I am.

What will it be like having that first show back?

I don’t even know, it’s just hard to picture! Especially with capacity, you know every artist always hopes you get a full show, but a full show now is half of what it should be. That’s just such a weird thing to happen. I’m more than happy to wait for everything to be completely or at least 70/80 % safe so that shows can happen at a more familiar capacity. I would hate to see that divide in people, just having little pods of people. I’m happy to wait though as it gives me more time to do more video stuff which I’ve been having a lot of fun with lately. But at the same time I’m more than happy to perform when it’s totally okay. Even if that is just to the pods of people. I just want to be able to dance! I think that would be so disheartening if people wanted to moved but they’re not allowed to, maybe i’ll wait until people are allowed to dance and the footlose ban is up.

Some Days is released April 23rd via Captured Tracks, pre-order here.

Crumb announce new album ‘Ice Melt’

 Photo by Third Pupil

Crumb have today announced their second album Ice Melt, set to be released in two weeks time on April 30th via Crumb Records. The new album takes its name from the coarse blend of salts that you can buy from your local hardware store for $9.99. When sprinkled on your wintry steps, this mixture absorbs water and gives off heat, transforming the ice into a viscous, briney slush and, eventually, nothing at all. Beginning with the dynamic chaos of “Up & Down,” and ending with Crumb’s closest thing to a lullaby, Ice Melt’ s ten tracks combine, like ice sculptures melting into a glistening puddle.

From the start, the group knew that cohesion was best achieved through plumbing their individual strengths— frontwoman Lila Ramani’s earliest songwriting, which catalyzed the group’s first two EPs; Bri Aronow’s knack for building (dis)affecting soundscapes; the hypnotic grounding of Jonathan Gilad’s drums, a Crumb mainstay; and Jesse Brotter’s distinctive bass playing, which subtly traces Ramani’s vocal melodies while providing an unrelenting pulse. These collective skills make Crumb a project of independent self-discovery, four creative minds converging around an idea that is always shifting and reforming.

Convening in Los Angeles to work with producer Jonathan Rado, Crumb tapped into atmosphere-creation like never before, building experimental compositions that are at turns head-nodding and surrealist, energetic and euphoric. Ramani characterises the album as a “return back down to earth,” a deeply felt examination of “real substances and beings that live on this planet.” It is also the cultivation of road-worn musicians exploring brand-new sounds and thematic concepts, pushing themselves into territory they could never have anticipated five years ago.

Listen to new single BNR below!

Tracklist

Up & Down

BNR

Seeds

L.A.

Gone

Retreat!

Trophy

Balloon

Tunnel (All That You Had)

Ice Melt

Men I Trust release new single “Tides”

Canadian 3-piece Men I Trust have shared dreamy new single “Tides”. This comes after they released “Lucky Sue” last year as well as their Forever Live Sessions live album.

They recently rescheduled their European tour from February to November, get tickets here.

Listen to the new track below.

Black Country, New Road – For The First Time Album Review

Ninja Tune – 2021

Contrary to the album’s title, this is not the first time that keyboardist May Kershaw, saxophonist Lewis Evans, guitarist Luke Mark, drummer Charlie Wayne bassist Tyler Hyde and violinist Georgia Ellery have performed together. However, it is in-fact the first time they have performed under this particular name. It is important to mention this before anyone moans about them appearing out of nowhere or being ‘industry plants’. Nevertheless, BCNR have made a name for themselves as part of the South London gig scene over the last two years, joining the ranks of Squid, Black Midi and Goat Girl and relentlessly working despite the obvious COVID restrictions.

Instrumentally it would be easy to lazily pile them in as Slint worship (Which is referenced on “Science Fair” since music journalists refused to shut the fuck up about comparisons towards them.) but the outcome tends more to veer towards acts like Duster, Low or even the later material from The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. This of course is only a framework for trying to define what they soundlike because they’ve already formed their own sound without needing to adhear to any lazy Pitchfork worship.

In keeping with being unconventional, the opener is a five minute organic jam, full of lingering repetition yet accessible beats and sharp melodies. In a live scenario you could only imagine how much this would hype an audience up before the collective takes the stage. It’s a reminder of that quote from Howard Moon of The Mighty Boosh that goes; “You hate jazz?, you fear jazz with its lack of rules.” This is exactly what he was on about.

Frontman Issac Wood’s delivery on many of these tracks comes across as wobbly, aggressive and unhinged. You can feel a sense of dread and anxiety coursing through the phrasing of these narratives, ranging from mildly sorrowful on “Athens, France” to roaring full blown melt downs later on in the record. “Track X” and “Science Fair” are the most narratively sound and perhaps as a result bring the highest sense of individual identity. Ironic considering that the unpredictability of where these songs take you can make it hard to appreciate what role each member will play, which often requires multiple listens to achieve full appreciation.

One minute you might be lulled with a pretty guitar line or alluring violin section, the next it might feel like someone’s stabbed you in the gums with a screwdriver. Wood’s lyrics often feel like someone writing fragments of thoughts on the iPhone notes app before forgetting what they were actually thinking about. Like watching a David Lynch film, trying to always find clear meanings in each sentiment will ultimately frustrate anyone trying to read between the lines with notions such as; “Now all that I became must die before the forum thread, the cursed vultures feed and spread the seeded daily bread.” 

Fans who’ve been following BCNR for a while may understandably be disappointed that two of the six tracks on here are reworked versions of previous singles, however there are polishes and vocal inflections that at times can change the songs overall delivery. On ‘Sunglasses’ for example, the warm, fuzzy intro chords leaning into the earworm melody is far more effective the the single version in the context of listening to this record in its entirety. Harrison sounds more like he’s accepting his fate of becoming a boring cunt like the father of his partner rather than screaming in denial. Even the line “The absolute pinnacle of British engineering, I am so ignorant now”, oozes with melodic allure rather than a sardonic quip. As the cacophony of instruments blend into a breakdown and tempo change, his character morphs into the very same normie that he feared he would turn into, all whilst failing at any attempts to hide his insecurities. Think of that sunglasses emoji, but with tears streaming down its face. 

8 minute closer ‘Opus’ is by far the most theatrical of offerings on here. It finds its balance between sounding like a sadcore indie offering in the softer sections and a mariachi band set on fire in the louder parts. The result is a bleak, tumultuous journey where our character reaches the end of his relationship. Evans saxophone work here is flawless, building up tension in the slower sections as it becomes a fiery release between each verse. With Harrison’s final, broken vocals with the lines “What we built must fall from the rising flames”, the sentiment that nothing is built to last comes to its conclusion. The final melody in particular resonates and sticks to your very core.

Rather than trying to guess what Black Country, New Road will do next, it’s probably best to enjoy this meandering experience without any predictions. For The First Time is a phenomenal debut that will hopefully secure the group’s future for years to come.

Goat Girl – On All Fours Album Review

Rough Trade Records – 2021

South London post rockers Goat Girl return with the follow up to 2018’s debut release Goat Girl, an album that was tinged in grunge and disdain. A lineup change with new bassist Holly Hole joining to replace Naima Jelly, a burn injury that cancelled a tour and a global pandemic in between, there’s certainly been many hurdles to getting this album released. With production being helmed by Speedy Wundergound’s own Dan Carey they have expanded their sound into new territories incorporating elements of synth-pop, jazz and soft-rock delivering a gratifying and woozy sophomore outing.

The band have never been ones to shy away from political messaging and throughout this album they continue to challenge the burdens of capitalism, casual racism in the media and climate change. Opener “Pest” cleverly flips around the phrase of “Beast from the east”, realising that this way of phrasing suggests that these extreme weathers are a result of the eastern hemispheres industrial revolutions, where in reality we are the ones that started the chain of pollution. “Pest from the west, drums on his chest” sings lead singer Lottie Cream in her deadpan style. Backed by a symphony of encapsulating rising guitar lines and bubbling synthesisers, the sound is easy on the ears whilst simultaneously impossibly menacing.

Although this album was written before any notion of a pandemic began and the fallout from it there are themes that resonate with a collective more wider than they might have originally thought. Lead single “Sad Cowboy” may seem upbeat through its use of club based synths and driving groove but lyrically the band speak on notions of feeling isolated from society, due to the often felt naivety of the many to some of the failings of homelessness, austerity and gentrification. And this contrast is cleverly woven into the lyrics. “Where colours play in the sky again, Through the windowpane, night time dissipates” where Cream is singing about these dreamlike surroundings that contrast her state of mind in the chorus where she sings “Slippin’ my hold, It comes and it goes, The feeling we’re told, Isn’t so”. Conveying the feeling of becoming detached from a world that is a much crueler place than is casually perceived.

But away from the socially commentary the band displays an incredible amount of rawness in their detailing of their own struggles with mental health. From the breezy but moving “Anxiety Feels” that details L.E.D’s struggle with anxiety and isolation and the choice between whether to involve medication. “I don’t wanna be on those pills, heard they make you numb, find another way to get my fill” she declares as the track opens. But it’s only when the chorus melodies and harmonies kick in that the true weight of this songs is felt, it may only be simple declarations of “finding it hard” but you can hear the unconcealed emotion oozing out. And one of the highlights of this album comes in the form of “Closing In” both lyrically and sonically. The simple melancholic synth melody of the verse create a truly ominous sense of unease that perfectly captures the tenderness that Cream is writing about. But she depicts her illness as an entity that comes and goes through the clever lyricisim of “I feel the ghost, she slipped through my bones, pushing around and allowed to expose”.

Compared to the gritty and grinding sound of their debut album, there’s a certain amount of dreaminess and psychedelia washed over this album. The guitars are cleaner, the mix is smoother and the grooves are looser. But in this new formed freeness the band revere in their collective sound, allowing each movement to become funkier and more expansive than ever. The likes of which are found all over the descending groove of “Badibaba” which also introduces the new injection of jazz elements into the bands sound through the off beat vocal melodies and slinky bass lines. And on “P.T.S.Tea”, that tells the story of how drummer Rosy Jones was scolded with hot tea on a ferry by a man who didn’t even acknowledge the event, the song may open with an upbeat synth-pop intro but it slowly descends into a jazzy and psychedelic soundscape that feels like your swimming in the discontent that the band creates with their swirling vocals.

That’s not to say however there aren’t moments that get lost in the looseness and the gritty feel of the first album is missing. “Jazz (In The Supermarket)” showcases the bands talent to build on different movements from an instrumental perspective, but with its early placement in the tracklisting and four and a half minute run time it slows down the flow of the album without adding too much that can’t be found later on sonically. And the blissful swaying jazz verses of the first half of “A-Men” become somewhat overshadowed by the drawn out second half that take just a bit too long to reach their conclusion.

This album takes a look at the world, both retrospectively and introspectively and tries to understand and question our ways of life whilst seeking for change in both aspects. Sonically Goat Girl may be leaning towards a more woozier sound than their debut, but the songwriting and undying drive to seek and inspire a better world is still as potent as ever.