Around 20 years ago, The Good Mixer in Camden was where it was at, a pub where you would almost always be guaranteed to find a stray member of Blur, Elastica or some other Britpop legend hanging out. Now, it is Brixton’s The Windmill that has built for itself a similar reputation in being a musical hub around which the indie scene’s most vital bands have found a home. Following hot on the heels of Shame, Goat Girl are the latest from that creative hotbed to release a superb debut album of their own.
Goat Girl is the sound of now. Disaffected, frustrated, anxious – fitting for a band that signed their first record deal with Rough Trade on the day after the Brexit referendum. The swirling, brooding ‘Burn The Stake’ lights the touch paper, Lottie’s low vocals suddenly soaring in despair and frustration. There is an ominous touch to Ellie L.E.D.’s guitar, a sense of danger that is only heightened by the phenomenal follow-up ‘Creep’. “Creep on the train, filming me…creep on the train, with his dirty trousers stain”. While the music stays soft and light, there is a thinly veiled rage behind the lyrics that climaxes with Lottie warning: “I really want to smash your head in”. That subtle balance of hard and soft winds through much of Goat Girl, adding a delicious layer of intrigue to what is at times a ramshackle sound.
With its deceptively soft exterior yet hard and punchy interior, the album is in many ways the quintessential London album for 2018. On the surface, everything may look wonderful but it isn’t all vanilla lattes and gleaming metropolises round here. In fact, ’Viper Fish’ finds that modern life is still a bit, well, rubbish with its cry for help to: “Find an antidote for this accumulated smoke”. It isn’t all doom and gloom, however, ‘Cracker Drool’ and ‘Slowly Reclines’ call back to the capital’s Britpop days, carrying more than a hint of Elastica and Sleeper in their angular guitars and deceptively jaunty lyrics. There are also shades of Blur at the point when Graham Coxon wrestled creative control away from Damon Albarn in the late 90s, with a suitably scuzzy lo-fi sound. These are merely historical shades in a palate that is all of Goat Girl’s own making, however, and the fun is all in their own delivery. Meanwhile, moments like ‘The Man’ and live favourite ‘The Man with No Heart or Brain’ are present and correct, all ready to whet appetites for the explosive shows to come.
With 19 tracks breathlessly delivered in 40 minutes, there is no time to waste and no thought of wasting a single second on something not worthwhile. With lyrics that are simple yet painfully and brutally to-the-point, it is a procession of devastating and precise observations that get right to the heart (and guts) of modern Britain. Whereas Britpop’s implosion always carried an air of inevitability about it and following indie movements have always smacked of a media desperate for something to sell front covers with, this current generation feels real. Nothing in Goat Girl’s world is dramatised, you can still sense the scum of the unwashed streets stuck to the soles of their shoes. Another vital release in a year which seems to have them lining up.