Golden Grrrls: Golden Grrrls – album review

Golden Grrrls – Golden Grrrls (Night School Records)
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Their name is a humorous nod to that eighties and early nineties series which starred the legendary Betty White, but more importantly to the music of the underground feminist punk movement that had bands such as Bikini Kill, and L7 to the forefront. Their influence stems from there, but also from that great Glaswegian indie sound that so enamoured with west coast pop/rock. Melodic, lo-fi and raw, their sound is a composite of DIY punk, and indie pop.

Formed in Glasgow in 2010, this self titled release is band members Eilidh Rodgers, Ruary MacLean, and Rachel Aggs debut album after a string of singles and tour only releases. The result is an infectious, engaging, upbeat yet subdued, and sometimes melancholy album that delicately intertwines their influences. The perfect release after an excessively cold winter, coming as it does in late February it’s perfectly placed to welcome spring and herald summer.

‘New Pop’ is a catchy opener, driven by an alternative eighties punky guitar hum reminiscent of bands such as Dinosaur Jnr and the Meat Puppets, a snappy percussive intro precipitates throughout with shared boy/girl harmonies giving it wonderful melodic rhythm that’s speedily maintained. The icing is the Cure-esque tunings layered over the top, a guitar sound that pops up later again on ‘Wrld Peace’, where the guitar dominates aurally over the atmospheric low-key background of further instrumentation and luscious three part vocals.

The three part harmonies dominate most tracks, and there is no real definable lead vocalist in the group. The tunes are crafted around all voices. So crafted and attentive are they, it’s surprising they can simultaneously play. It would be interesting to see how the quality is maintained live. Lyrically songs appear simplistic on the facade, but after further investigation they reveal themselves to be heartfelt, cryptically humorous and suggestive, such as on ‘Past Tense’, “left hand right hand always on my mind…you can come here anytime”.

Stylistically they often shift gear, with janglier guitar on tracks such as ‘Older Today’ and the excellent and upbeat ‘Paul Simon’, but their attention to vocal harmony is consistent all over. ‘Simon’ is followed by another highlight ‘Think of the Ways’ where Rodger’s sings lead, her ethereal voice beautifully juxtaposed with Maclean’s resonant vocal. The repeated refrain “I ee I ee won’t walk away” is bewitching.

Despite the slight stylistic variations, for a short album (11 tracks averaging 3 minutes), it sometimes drags, and feels a little uninspired  in places and restrained in others. This may be due it being a little too restrained in parts. However, it’s difficult to criticise, because there are no real turkeys and album closers, the superbly contagious ‘Date It’ and the blustery ‘We’ve got…’ are definite highlights. The latter features more of the aforementioned suggestive lyrical musings, “They say I’m fine but I think you’re fine, I can screw you anytime” and the former will have your head swaying and your body shuffling around the room.

Overall, it’s slightly regressive, but not imitative of the bands in their rich palette. If you like indie, jangly, lo-fi pop, and bands such as fellow Glaswegian exports the Pastels, the Vaselines, and the BMX Bandits, then Golden Grrrls are for you, they don’t reinvent the wheel, but are impossible not to like. The album might not blow you away, but the warmth and atmosphere of the three part vocal harmonies might, and there are plenty of well crafted punky pop understated gems to make it a charming and worthwhile listen.

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