Open Up Your Head (2020) – Sea Girls
One of my oldest friends knows so much about music, I couldn’t let this month pass without getting a recommendation from him. I wasn’t planning on including more indie rock, but he said this band popped up on his Spotify daily mix just a couple of weeks ago and he already likes 90% of their discography, and even saw them live, so I gave them a go. He and I don’t have a huge amount in common, despite the 10+ year friendship, so it isn’t overly surprising to me that I didn’t initially enjoy this album that much. ‘Weight in Gold’ sounded like a weird cross between Ed Sheeran and Rend Collective – two artists I don’t particularly enjoy. Similar to Layla’s Wisdom, quite a lot of the tracks are interesting at the beginning but then introduce a much less interesting refrain and just repeat that for the whole rest of the song (here’s looking at you ‘Ready For More’ and ‘Violet’). This makes it hard to judge the bangers, but having relistened I think I’ll give bop status to ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’, ‘Do You Really Wanna Know?’, ‘Lie To Me’, ‘Call Me Out’, and, because I’m feeling especially generous today, even ‘Violet’.
Cover art: 6/10 it’s really pretty but I can’t tell where the band name ends and the album name begins – or what the guy in the air has to do with either.
Album name: 8/10 a lot of the songs seem to be about anxiety and the like.
Overall vibe: Relatable, inoffensive, highly recommendable. 5 Seconds of Summer crossed with Kings of Leon crossed with I want to say Scouting for Girls, but maybe that’s just me.
The Horror and the Wild (2020) – The Amazing Devil
The Witcher is a garbage TV show but one thing that isn’t garbage is Henry Cavill and another thing that isn’t garbage is Jaskier’s singing. ‘Toss A Coin To Your Witcher’ was the hit of early 2020 and when I found out Joey Batey is an actual musician in an actual band, and an indie folk one no less, I knew I had to check it out.
The overall album does sort of feel anachronistic to me: sometimes because the instrumentation reminds me of The Witcher while the lyrics reference some very modern ideas. On repeated listens though, I’m more than used to it. I could talk for so long about this album. The opening track, ‘The Rockrose and the Thistle’, isn’t one I’ve been re-listening to that much, but it sets the tone almost immediately with its spooky a cappella-esque vibes. Somehow the album blends really well without blurring together – there’s a definite overarching mood, but each track still managed to stand out to me. ‘Welly Boots’ could be a very sweet father/child song if it wasn’t for all the swearing. ‘Farewell Wanderlust’ is almost like something from a Disney production. ‘Fair’ is more of a lullaby, sort of ‘Dear Theodosia’ energy, but it’s too long for my taste. ‘Unwanted Animal’ wasn’t my favourite but it’s nice to get to hear more of Madeleine Hyland’s voice. ‘The Horror and the Wild’ and ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ are also up there for me, with ‘Battle Cries’ having similar top-notch vibes but being the only one that does blend in slightly for me – it is the last track though, so maybe that’s a side effect of listening to an album in one go.
I think my favourite song from this album is ‘Marbles’. It’s so pretty. A true duet – very raw vocals, catchy, and a pleasing polyphony that twists and turns and routinely comes together in moments of pretty basic but somehow euphoric harmony. Imagine ‘Fairytale of New York’ but less urban and if Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl’s characters were actually happy and in love.
It’s the song version of that feeling where the party’s over, and it’s just you and somebody you love, laying on the kitchen floor, reminiscing and planning a utopic future together, and making promises you both know you can’t keep, but you make them anyway, and you’re not even really drunk anymore you’re just that elusive combination of tired and happy that lets you bare your soul to them as they play with your hair. I would honestly play it at my wedding.
Cover art: 9/10 this might just be me but it’s a little too dark and small. It took a lot of looking to figure out what I was seeing. The fire is so pretty though and I love that they’re in similar makeup and that he’s in a white dress whereas she’s dressed in something closer to a suit (the horror). Who cares about gender in the wild?
Album name: 9/10 tag yourself! I’m the horror. Big points for the name actually corresponding to the content of the tracks comprising the album. That said, I do keep forgetting which is the album name and which is the band name. I’ll definitely listen to more of these guys though so I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon enough.
Bangers: 7/9 we have a winner!
Overall vibe: Novosexual people host a private and wholesome night-time wedding ceremony in the wilderness.
Next time: The second album from my favourite Barbershop Harmony Society champions, and a deep-dive into Danny Elfman’s history in a rock band.