Secret Meeting score: 79
by Philip Moss and Phil Scarisbrick
For over thirty years, Rough Trade Records has been synonymous with the best in alternative and independent music. In fact, with acts such as The Fall, The Smiths and The Strokes, it’s a label that has defined decade after decade of musical movements.
And not since the days of The Libertines – another four piece guitar band that was signed to Rough Trade – has London’s musical scene been so awash with bands, as Goat Girl find themselves amongst the likes of The Fat White Family and Shame, writing vital, socio-politicised music that’s so completely of its time.
After signing their record deal over two years ago, the band have spent their time wisely – building a fanbase touring with acts such as Parquet Courts, Marika Hackman and The Lemon Twigs, and putting out a number of limited seven inch singles to whet the appetite – their self titled debut album is finally here.
Opener, Burn The Stake, finds lead singer, Clottie Cream, channelling her inner Patti Smith and damning the city she called home as being filled with ‘filthy fakes’, before it explodes into a wash of ugly, lo-fi guitars and primal wails. And while Creep shifts musically, beginning with a squall of violins, the content is even more jarring as Clottie documents a violation that no one should ever have to endure – ‘Creep on the train, he won’t stare away… filming me… with his gold chain… with his dirty trouser strain,’ before unfurling the anger caused, Creep on the train, I really want to smash your head in!’
Anyone who’s had half an ear on BBC 6 Music will recognise the album’s hooky lead single, The Man. A three minute assault of ironic, shuffling pop, as Clottie howls, ‘When you’re gone, I feel alone, I bite my lips and taste my hips, Watch your eyes watching my thighs – You’re the man, you’re the man. You’re the man for me.’ And while The Man does have all the hallmarks of great single, Viper Fish, Throw Me A Bone or the Pavement-mimicking Country Sleaze are all just as immediate and would equally be at home blasting through your DAB radio.
At first glance, 19 songs in 40 minutes seems like a bombardment, and it is. Even though five of the tracks (written by drummer, Rosy Bones) are brief musical interludes, they purposely disrupt the record’s flow, leaving the listener disorientated, and further exaggerate how the band feel alienated by the ‘devolution, abnormalities and strange happenings’ currently going on in the world. Fellow South Londoner, Lincoln Barrett of Domino signees, Sorry, further adds to the sense of estrangement. Appearing as the sole male voice on the record, he takes on a spoken word part over the hip hop infused, A Swamp Dogs Tale. A track that could easily slot onto King Krule’s incredible 2017 album, The Ooz.
This is a theme summarised by perhaps the record’s best moment – The Breeders-esque pop of Cracker Drool. ‘Words are spoken in the dark, alienation, biting hard… held hostage from the start,’ Clottie – who seemingly has her antennae erect – is an astute observer, and this I’m sure will aid the group in identifying with a target audience of youngsters who know a brighter future is achievable.
Dan Carey’s production (Franz Ferdinand, Kate Tempest, Bat For Lashes) is flawless throughout – bringing a real sense of clarity to juxtapose the harsh messages delivered from Clottie’s tongue. But there is a thin line between critically-adept social commentary, and shallow, vacuous posturing. With their debut album, Goat Girl have managed to set themselves up on the right side of this divide. Their frenetic sound gives their words the urgency they require, keeping you engaged for the duration. Like with previous Rough Trade stablemates, you get the sense that Goat Girl are more than just a band, which further emphasises that this seriously addictive record needs to be heard en masse.