Music Reviews
Goat Girl

Goat Girl Goat Girl

(Rough Trade) Rating - 7/10

The first song that many heard from Goat Girl’s debut album was The Man, and for good reason. This slice of power-pop fused an early-60s feel with modern guitar jangle and a dose of desire. From that track, you’d expect the London-based four-piece’s debut album to be an upbeat rock revival. But this record is far stranger and woozier than that. It’s full of songs that slink by in odd fashions and time signatures, a great inversion of assumptions.

Nearly all of these tunes run short, with most at less than 2-and-a-half minutes. Once Goat Girl churns through an idea a couple of times, the group is ready to move on to the next one. Songs aren’t necessarily built to flow into each other on the tracklist, but somehow it all gels.

Many tracks are dazed and confused, shuffling widely between styles and built on half-melodies that grow out of nowhere. Cracker Drool uses a sunny California beach vibe that’s curled sour, erupting into a truly dizzying, catchy riff by guitarist LED. The gentle music of Burn the Stake counters lyrics of castrations and cyanide cake until the band rips into a distorted cascade. A Swamp Dog’s Tale puts spoken-word poetry by producer Lincoln Barrett over music that sounds like it was played on a half-melted tape. Viper Fish lets the rhythm section of bassist Naima Jelly and drummer Rosy Bones shine in a groove built for the discontented.

Anchoring the music as it falls down the rabbit hole is singer Clottie Cream. Her vocals may seem detached at first glance, but she’s just unimpressed by perverts, idiots and all manner of loser men. Her words show a biting, deadpan sarcasm throughout the record. Over the bass-and-violin of Creep, she calls out an asshole filming her: “Creep on the train/I really want to smash your head in.” On The Man with No Heart or Brain, her description is enough to tear the titular character down, as he “Had a hole where the heart should be/Making him hate most everybody.”

Some tracks do dig beneath the surface of her laid-back vocals, though. The two parts of I Don’t Care show a differing take on the same perspective. In Pt. 1, the music revs up when she sings about how little she cares, showing that internally, she probably does care. If Pt. 1 is that inner turmoil, the more controlled take in Pt. 2 is her outward poker-face.

The only pop tunes, like The Man, turn up towards the end of Goat Girl. Little Liar is the band’s best take on '90s riot-grrrl, with a sharp, high-pitched guitar riff speeding it along. Country Sleeze is a strong number that brings up the loud-soft dynamics of grunge. Throw Me a Bone is the closest Goat Girl comes to a legit ballad, though one suited for destructive tendencies.

From the 19-song tracklist of short tunes to the complete disregard for standard song structures, Goat Girl’s self-titled is a punk album in demeanor, if not in style. The result makes for a far more fascinating record than initial singles would have led us to believe. In defying expectations, the band exceeds them.