S/T Debut Album out April 6, 2018 via Rough Trade
Across 19 tracks in just 40 minutes, Goat Girl’s self-titled debut creates a half-fantasy world out of a very dirty, ugly city reality. In the group’s words: “Simply put, it’s an album that comes from growing up in London and the first hand experience of our city’s devolution. We wanted to think of it as this place seen not necessarily just through our eyes, but someone who can’t get past the abnormalities and strange happenings that exist in our city. We think this gives the freedom lyrically and musically to explore unspoken truths and emotions that we all as humans feel.”
Goat Girl belong to a burgeoning, close-knit south London scene, born in venues like The Windmill and including bands like Shame, Bat-Bike, Fat White Family, Horsey, Sorry, and many more. “We help each other – I put you on, you put me on – because we genuinely like each other’s music. We’d played gigs all over before but never really settled in a comfortable environment, which is what The Windmill is. It’s an important place for us, it was the first space that our music made sense to exist within. It’s a safe space where music is genuinely listened to and appreciated, and where laws and licensing haven’t reached over to ruin the venue.”
This live freedom enabled the band to think without constraints when it came to recording. Goat Girl enlisted producer Dan Carey (The Kills, Bat For Lashes, Franz Ferdinand) to help them capture their vision, set a goal to write and record a piece of music in a day in effort to capture that raw first-creation moment, and chose to record to tape. “We wanted it to have a similar expression to our live sets and so knew from the start that a tape-based approach would work for us. There’s less awareness of trying to achieve perfection as you can’t edit out mistakes and so you allow them to occur instead. It felt like a really relaxed and natural environment, and you can hear the comfortability in the energy of our sound. Recording to tape also meant that we were able to get the foundations of each song down very quickly, and there was a lot more thought put in to the pre-production of the album, as well as how we would allow the songs to flow in a cohesive manner from one to the next to create a story, rather than an album made up of singles.”
It’s a very English album — sharp-eyed observations like The Kinks, louche rage like The Slits — but it’s also full of swampy, swaggering guitars and singer Lottie’s filthy drawl. “It wasn’t exactly intentional to have this warped country sound, but I think that was initially what we were all drawn to and inspired by, bands that existed in a lo-fi, dissonant, scratchy context.” Each member brings a diverse range of influences and contributions, ranging from krautrock to bossa nova, jazz to blues. They resist being boxed in to an indie, guitar-based genre, and focused intensely on the layers and textures of each song as well as the different contexts they could sit within. “It seems all too easy to exist in that kind of world with the instrumentation of our band, and so now was our chance to transcend that feeling. The joy of working in Dan’s studio is that you’re surrounded by these possibilities to sound more electronic, with such a vast array of different analog synths and sounds to choose from…to be able to experiment and evolve with our music in the recording process has allowed us different possible future routes for our music to take.”
The result, Goat Girl, succeeds in conjuring a complete world all unto itself, and is arranged in segments — divided by improvised interludes — that offer glimpses of an even stranger parallel universe. With each song acting as its own story of sorts that features different settings and characters, listeners are transported therewithin. It’s dark yet cheeky, varied yet cohesive, and striking in its vision; this world is populated by creeps and liars, lovers, dreamers, and wonderful lunatics. Lead single “Cracker Drool” is at once jaunty and sinister, a foreboding tale full of swirling guitar, echoing vocals and synthetic drum hits that stumbles and gurgles straight into “Slowly Reclines,” an equally menacing and considerably heavier track. “Creep” is, predictably and grimly enough, inspired by actual events: Creep on the train / I really want to smash your head in. “You want to think you could stand up for yourself in that kind of situation,” says Lottie. “But then a lot of the time a quiet politeness takes over and you act like nothing has happened – even though in your head everything has happened. I think the purpose for a lot of the lyrics in the songs is to act out that power role that isn’t necessarily a truth, but the freedom of writing gives you that sense.”
On “Country Sleaze,” she sings about sex in a way that embraces visceral reality and defeats shame. “If you say you’re sexually free, as a woman, society still deems that a bad thing. But really it’s a beautiful thing to be confident in yourself – to know that you can have sex and it doesn’t have to mean anything and that doesn’t make you a bad person.” Ellie smiles: “That song is quite disgusting, in a good way. It’s not trying to be nice, it’s not a love song.” Goat Girl is altogether an album crafted with intention, and invites imaginations to run wild; it draws listeners in to its half-fantasy world from the slow fade, eerie instrumental intro “Salty Sounds,” to the gorgeous, unsettling closer “Tomorrow” — a rendition of the song featured in Bugsy Malone — which ends with dawn-chorus birds and the feeling of new possibilities after a long and messy night.