Album Review – Earl Grey by Girl Ray (2017)

The star of Girl Ray has been firmly in the ascendancy since the 2016 single Trouble was released by musical scene makers Moshi Moshi Records. The sort of critical acclaim that it garnered is usually only reserved for the sort of bands that have strange obtuse haircuts but have somehow managed to tap into some unfathomable essence that appeals to the post teen / pre-mature adult inhabitants of commercially successful indie.

Girl Ray are not that. In fact the delightful essence of these three teenagers from Finchley, North London (Poppy Hankins, Sophie Moss and Iris McConnell), is that even with repeated listens it is hard to tether their sound to one, two or even three genres as with every listen a new musical stratum is revealed that implicitly hints at a newer version of something old.

Stupid Things (Reprise)

One thing that is always omnipresent is a sense of melody. It is usually presented in the form of either the dominant tinkling of the piano or the deliciously torpid guitar work. The best of the piano work is seen is Stupid Thing (see above) that has the delicious allure of Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls) on the off chance she re-kindled a hitherto hidden desire to get her pretty on, rather than hammer the keys were elbows. However despite the tempo and noise differences both artists have a similar ramshackle aesthetic to their piano work.
The tracks encapsulating the best of the slow motion guitar work is where the album truly excels. Tracks such as the superb Where Am I Now and the albums true stand out Ghosty (see below), perfectly reveal the many different layers that are added to the background fluttering / jangling / lo-fi melodies.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2999143554/size=small/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/track=2588530472/transparent=true/

Initial this string work presents the sort of intermittent stylistics that typified the 1980’s C-86 movement or a little bit latter the sound of Pavement, with its scratched out stop/start insistence that ensures an interactive listening experience as the melodies are never allowed to flow and become too comfortable. If this is part of the essence of the indie aesthetic then Girl Ray, despite their tender years, have mastered it and as such may well, forever, remain relevant.

This aesthetic is also added to by adding the sort of lo-fi production that typifies the work of Todd Rundgren (the artist they claim is their primary influence) and a sort of wafer thin falsetto version of Nico’s vocal delivery. Perhaps less dominant, certainly not as weird, but essentially equally as unaccountable and marvelous as the German Warbler. Perhaps even more so as the fact that the vocals and accompanying stunted harmonies emanate from three of the most normal looking girls the planet has ever been blessed with, adds to an atmosphere that already oozes ‘cool’.

If there is one slight criticism of the album it is that some of the tracks tend to roll into one another as the pace and texture of the tracks suffer a tad from uniformity. However this is a minuscule deviation from the otherwise sheer brilliance of this album and as they head off to America soon on tour, nobody should back against them breaking that side of the pond as well.

Artist Links

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Label Links

moshimoshimusic.com,
Bandcamp
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