A swirling whimsical look at the dark and fractured present
Goat Girl’s most recent album, On All Fours, displays a newfound maturity in lyrical storytelling that builds beautifully upon the band’s 2018 self-titled release Goat Girl. The band focuses on topics like social injustice and prejudice, all while remaining agile and vulnerable within personal topics of mental health and anxiety. The band has left behind their angsty lyrics and instead, opted for more playful tones that mask these harsh truths, along with a wide array of instruments.
Originating in 2015 from South London, Clottie Cream, L.E.D, Naima Jelly and Rosy Bones found themselves frequently bumping into each other at local shows and events. Having bonded over their love of music and similar views on the world around them, they decided to form Goat Girl. While performing at a local spot called Brixton Windmill, it took no time for their colorful and distinct tone to be noticed, which in turn got them signed to Rough Trade Records. After releasing their first album, bass player Naima Jelly left the band, and they soon met Holly Hole, who fit in perfectly and completed the four-piece.
The lingering melancholic guitar on “Pest” kicks off the record, before eventually being joined by airy vocal harmonies as a synth arpeggio rises. Through the airiness, without any warning, the drums crash into the track alongside a whirlwind of swirling electro synths and guitar. Lyrically, the song is powerful, touching on injustice with lines like, “And words remain in the suits of today”—it carries a strong message about the dangers of monopolized corporate control as well as the weight of societal norms.
The single “Sad Cowboy” intrigues the ears with a pulsing synth melody at the start, showcasing their newer instrumental additions. Close behind is a driven country twang guitar, accompanied by glossy vocals and a luscious and free-flowing electronic synth. Though the song feels full of whimsy, its poetic lyrics dive deep, telling the story of an anxious mind attempting to weave its way through feeling and emotion.
The accurately titled “Anxiety Feels” touches on the harshness of anxiety within the brain. At the start, it feels simple, playful and sweet, despite the subject of its lyrics. The track is deceptive, leaning into this instrumental serenity while the lyrics paint a much darker picture of the crippling weight anxiety puts on the mind.
“The Crack” features the crunching guitar and percussive drive that fans grew familiar with on the band’s first record, along with beautiful touches of subtle synths in the background. The lyrics explore how humans are hurting the Earth when they should be shouldering responsibility in lines like, “Cracks forming/ the Earth’s stronger on our back.” Though the song does carry the same angsty tone, the band shows their maturity through these analyses.
“Badibaba” greets the listener with a mysterious bassline and twangy guitar before quickly introducing driving drums. Unlike any other track on this record, “Badibaba” has a strong techno/electronica feel, with the synthetic soundscapes transporting it to a different dimension. Just like “The Crack,” this song describes how humans mistreat the environment in lyrics like “Burn it/ Use it up/ Hang it/ From the setting sun.” The song itself almost acts out the words as it spirals into a frenzy of drums, guitar and haphazard synths as if the earth is literally falling apart as they play.
Goat Girl’s new album On All Fours brings refined tonal growth and a confident command of glorious electro synths; they present dark topics maturely, playfully and colorfully, while also creating awareness of major public crises as listeners bob their heads along to the fantastic instrumentation. On All Fours is truly a success on a few different fronts.