‘Androgynous Mary’ is the very impressive debut offering from LA four-piece, Girl Friday. It follows their two previous EPs ‘Tiny Hats’ (2017) and ‘Fashion Conman’ (2019); full of ferocious rock songs, each one is excellent. The themes of ‘Androgynous Mary’ centre around stress related to being alienated from normative society. It also deals with struggle and pain but, at its heart, is about finding hope and seeking optimism despite the trials they face along the way. The band’s personal friendship became stronger as a result of writing the album. They drew inspiration from their own personal struggles.
Opener ‘This Is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For’ has a gentle introduction and exquisite vocal harmonies, before turning things on their head by including discordant, uncomfortable sounds. Lead single ‘Amber’s Knees (A Matter of Concern)’ is infectious, fast-paced, choppy. It was also the first song the band wrote with the intention of being on the album. It’s guitar-driven, lo-fi indie punk at its very best.
‘Eaten Thing’ is grunge-inspired and percussion heavy with mournful vocals, whereas ‘Public Bodies’ is gentle and brooding. Their sense of being sidelined is felt in their observational lyrics (“At the church, they kicked us out / Cause we were useless / But we were trying”). In ‘What We Do It For’, they ask, “Do you love me? / Do you love me?” ‘Earthquake’, a previous single, is urgent yet cathartic. It’s a f*ck you to the patriarchy as well as any chains that may hold you back. It has a fun, shouty chorus.
In stark contrast to the previous track, ‘Clotting’ is softer and features sentimental vocals. ‘Gold Stars’ is beautiful and haunting, aimed at a lover who doesn’t realise they are no longer wanted. The powerful track features a sample from The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. With ‘Favourite Friend’, we are back to Girl Friday being anthemic (“You said you loved me / And I believed you”). Final track ‘I hope Jason is happy’ features fuzzy guitars and lyrics about having to fight to “keep your breath in this world”.
‘Androgynous Mary’ is an excellent, excellent debut and examines themes of hope paralleled with despair. They have struck the balance perfectly. Girl Friday have experimented with sounds on this album. Dark, heavy themes are contrasted with elements of beauty - be they rousing lyrics, soft vocals or a distorted guitar line.
Words: Narzra Ahmed
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