Goat Girl ‘On All Fours’ review: the all-girl group prove punk doesn’t have to be male and stale

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With their second album, On All Fours, Goat Girl have gone further than most bands in pushing their genre to its limits. This four-piece, post-punk group from South London have cultivated a genre-blending and politically aware sound that has bent post-punk into a genre un-recognisable from the traditional adherence to heavy, shouty guitar music. 

On All Fours is a departure from the more basic DIY country-tinged sound of their self-titled first album. Goat Girl have clearly progressed into a more articulate and direct group with obvious emphasis being placed on psychedelia and songs which feel more whole compared to the 19-track medley of short guitar and bass-heavy songs which marked their debut. 

A trippy and dream-like experience into psychedelic rock, On All Fours feels out of place in this bleak pandemic winter. Sitting in a field with a drink and company is the atmosphere that this album generates, rather than sitting in your room listening on a laptop. But maybe this is what makes the album so special. The adaptation and combination of synthesizer with intricate guitar melodies and less distinct baselines gives this album an advanced edge and their sound has wholly advanced and transformed. Tracks like ‘Pest’ and ‘The Crack’ are exemplary of a more traditional indie rock sound but when interspersed with the likes of ‘Badibaba’ and ‘Sad Cowboy’ the obvious orientation of this album into more techno-infused psychedelia is clear. 

The band, despite their young age, have gone through turmoil that most artists have never experienced

Goat Girl have an edginess that most bands feign. Their youth, song writing capability and politics shine through their music. On All Fours has a poignancy that will probably render it one of their most heartfelt works. During production, guitarist-vocalist Ellie Rose Davies was diagnosed with cancer, forced to begin immediate treatment. The band, despite their young age, have gone through turmoil that most artists have never experienced: such turmoil is discernible in the album. Each track feels intricate and thought through. Sonically, Goat Girl have clearly delved into electronic exotica and sound like The Orielles, but with a harder and more political edge. 

Compared to the more explicitly politically charged songs in their previous album – such as ‘Burn the Stake’ which would have been welcome at a Corbyn rally – On All Fours is far more personal. ‘Anxiety Feels’ is anthemic in its dreamy chorus and melodic guitar but also a moving commentary on mental health, especially apt now: “I know I should get out the house/ Make myself useful/ I find it hard (sometimes)”. This song is poetic in many ways and is probably their most heartfelt work.  

‘P.T.S.Tea’ is about an experience of hate-crime suffered by the non-binary drummer Rosy Bones. This song is lyrically poetic and is one of the band’s best political pieces. Lyrics like “PTSD from a whole cup of tea/ Some call me Rosy and some call me Rue/ To say what I am, well I don’t have a clue” captures the normalised nature of transphobia, a topic appearing disparagingly little in politics let alone song-writing. There is an unquestioned power that Goat Girl has in writing this song. Using distorted guitar and dreamy vocalising to turn the experience into one of hope, not one of defeat: “they’re looking for the prize, that’s not me”. 

On All Fours proves that Goat Girl are on a different plain of intensity

Goat Girl sing about experiences and points of view not normal for the more typical straight, white, middle-class males who have so long dominated punk. Goat Girl have utilised their difference, transforming it into power, visible through their music, that transcends their still small status in the larger British alternative scene. In a recent interview with The Guardian, bassist Holly Mullineaux exclaimed the issue candidly – “it’s like we’re seen as harmless because we’re not men. It’s not even recognised as being on the same level of intensity”. On All Fours proves that Goat Girl are on a different plain of intensity, one that the more traditional punk bands will never reach. To simply compare them with bands which might sound heavier or darker will not do. 

Goat Girl has an ability to produce iconic and memorable tracks, ‘Cracker Drool’ and ‘Throw Me a Bone’ from their debut are particularly memorable. But those tracks now feel stripped down and basic, there is nothing like that in any of their new songs. Goat Girl have produced an album that, whilst being radically different from their first, has still developed on the eclecticism of their debut. 

Possessing a depth that appears only superficial in most punk records, Goat Girl deserve far more recognition. Whilst their current work is still verging on the experimental and is certainly set to change and develop, their ability to produce well written, diverse, and political tracks is unparalleled. 

Recommended Listening: ‘Jazz (In the Supermarket)’ 

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