Unapologetic and audacious, but this debut struggles to maintain the riotous momentum of its standout moments…

Rewind to 2016, it seemed like GIRLI was on track to be the new ‘it’ girl, with her PC-inspired, bubblegum pop tracks (‘Too Much Fun’ / ‘It Was My Party Last Night’) and has been churning out singles and EPs ever since.

Despite these solid efforts, it always seemed she was looking for something more, and with her debut album ‘Odd One Out’ she seems to have found it.  But is this ‘something’ as entertaining and original as GIRLI's  previous work?

The album opens with the powerful ‘Deal With It,’ a floor-stomping anthem that could easily be used for a Nasty Gal ad. With chanting layered vocals and feel-good production, it’s a school kid’s dream. But despite apparently spending lot of time trying to find her own sound, this has been done before — the old-school punk rock sound with its loud and abrasive attitude — in fact, it’s much like Charli XCX’s ‘SUCKER.’

‘Pink’ however is a great addition to the album. Unapologetic and audacious, if you had the St Trinian’s soundtrack on in the next room you probably couldn’t tell the difference, while ‘Stick Out’ is an upbeat, catchy inclusion with a real earworm of a melody.

‘Day Month Second’ teases potential with its playful lyrics and glitchy production, but unfortunately these are hidden behind GIRLI’s whining vocal, and ‘Fake Friends’ feels like a pointless, grinding and quite painful interlude, that’s so unnecessary it’s hard to grasp how it made the cut over a well-rounded complete track. It’s quite frustrating that GIRLI doesn’t play to her strengths on a body of work so crucial and important in her career.

The successful ‘Hot Mess’ is promising though, with its feminist-driven ironic attitude that captures both the snark of Lily Allen and the lyrical wit of Kate Nash. The album’s track time works in GIRLI’s favour too – any longer than the current 26 minutes though would most likely ruin the fun and excitement that she tries to exude throughout.

The tail end of the album becomes pretty predictable, but despite this ‘Odd One Out’ does capture a sense of pop-punk cohesiveness that GIRLI deserves credit for, even if it has been done before.  The album’s last track is like a teaser of what could have been. The incredibly tongue-in-cheek ‘Up & Down’ is everything a GIRLI song should be, all impenitent lyrics (“I’m a fat giraffe who likes pea soup / You only think I’m funny ‘cause you’re high as fuck on mushrooms”) and anthemic production. It’s a glimpse of what she does best.

At times this record appears confused and lackluster but its solid moments show GIRLI’s capability at being a rebellious and riotous pop star – qualities that were so prominent on her early singles.

6/10

Words: Nick Lowe

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