Devon’s own Muncie Girls’ first record managed to perfectly bridge the gap between punk and catchy indie-pop. The three-piece have managed to do the same this time around only with a deeper exploration into frontwoman Lande Hekt’s personal life, as she explores themes of metal health, family life and sexism. Fixed Ideals sees Hekt eloquently deliver these topics under the backdrop of catchy hooks and intense melodies.
The title comes from a Sylvia Plath poem and the line ‘Perfume, politics and fixed ideals.’ Produced by long-term collaborator Lewis Johns and mastered by Emily Lazar, the album should be considered a progression and a more adventurous album both lyrically and sonically, with more studio time allowing for this. “We were at it for so long, I thought it would never end,” Lande said, “I actually got kind of ill half way through, because I think it was just a lot to deal with.
“We recorded 19 songs and I played bass, guitar, acoustic guitar, keys and sang and harmonised on all the songs as well as coming up with new ideas and extra parts because we hadn’t got everything totally ready. And the songs are the most personal ones I’ve ever written,” she added.
The album kicks off decisively with a reference to her childhood in what is an intensely relatable piece of work for anyone who went through a single parent upbringing. “The song ‘Jeremy’ is obviously a big fuck you to my dad, a right wing guy who denied my existence and refused to support my mum in any way.”
‘Picture of Health’ then brings back those pop-punk inclinations before ‘High’ brings a far dreamier quality to the album. The subject of mental health is approached in ‘Clinic’ as she references her experiences with CBT: “It was a really fucking horrible time but I’m glad I wrote it down.”
The militaristic drum work and eccentric melodies of ‘Falling Down’ then show an evolution from the first record, as does ‘Isn’t Life Funny’, with its intense undercurrent bubbling throughout. A lighter tactic is then explored on ‘Bubble Bath’ before ‘Locked Up’ goes down a completely different avenue in the form of one of the angrier compositions they’ve ever recorded, and that should make for a terrific live showing.
‘In Between Bands’ and ‘Hangovers’ are two of the rawer pieces that both manage to have an emotional core whilst remaining catchy. ‘Family of Four’, meanwhile, is another on the nose track in which Lande draws upon her own experience of being the young child of a single mum with three kids.
Tracks such as the former are what set Muncie Girls apart from their peers. Lande manages to conduct herself and get her message across in a charming, effortless way whilst still maintaining the band’s indie-punk heart.