2018 EPs/Albums

Our Girl – Stranger Today (Review)

 

I’ve been waiting for Brighton based Our Girl’s debut album ever since I first heard of them back in November when I saw them support Marika Hackman. They blew me away from the first song they played. For a trio, they have such a big sound and Stranger Today just confirms that. I find it really interesting that this album features 6 out of 11 tracks that have been previously released, but hearing them in a new light, a fresh lick of paint and different type of production is extraordinary. With the album only been released 4 days ago, it’s already in the charts and giving the band the exposure that they truly deserve.

Filled with fuzz and adrenaline, “Our Girl” was the first song that lead vocalist and guitarist, Soph Nathan wrote. The band call this their theme tune because, well, they’re named after it, duh. The song is everything you want to hear for the first song of an album to be. It’s glued with happiness and a big sound that just keeps on travelling with every listen.  It’s one of those song that you notice something different about it every time you listen to it. With Bill Ryder Jones (The Coral) production and lead guitar on this song, it gives the song nostalgia feels to easier, happier times.

“Being Around” is a song that Our Girl fan’s know already as it was released on their first EP, and the production of this version compared to the other is considerably better. Comparing the both versions, the first version was far more noisier and not as clear as the album version, which you can hear all of the instruments in their own limelight. It draws subtle influences from The Breeders and Warpaint, but still owning their sound.

Bass and drums driven, “In My Head” tells the story of how we all wish sometimes that people could understand us more and how it would be easier if they took a trip in our own heads. Rhythmically, this song just automatically makes you shake your hips and want to dance. With a catchy chorus and contagious harmonies, In My Head is a stand out track on the album. To make it even more of a clever song, it speeds up making it sound experimental and a huge song to listen to live. Just imagine the mosh pit at the end of this track live…

“I Really Like It” is about Soph’s girlfriend while they made the “friends to more than friends” move. The emotion of this song makes it a crowd pleaser because even though some people don’t like to admit it, love is amazing and overwhelming and when you’re in it, it really is the best thing in the world. This is probably the most pop orientated song on the album as the structure is fairly simple and easy to listen too. Just over half way, the song takes a turn to an instrumental break with a memorable guitar fuzz trip taking us back into a type of pre chorus before reaching the final chorus.

A new song for Our Girl listeners is “Josephine” and it’s instantly a new favourite of mine. Beginning with bass and an amazing guitar strain that sends shivers down your spine, you know this song is going to be special. Musically, it’s what we’ve been waiting for, a 90’s grunge Sonic Youth drowsiness. The layering of guitar noises over rhythmical, wonderful guitar chords adds this draining feeling to the song that’s just so deep and meaningful to listen too. The song is about making up in a relationship and getting back together. It’s hard and a punch in the heart when a relationship ends but there’s something that sticks out to me that makes me think that they WILL get back together. When Soph sings “and I’m loving you, always” she ends always in a major key which is a sign that things could look up and be hopeful, whereas the music still feels like you want to bury yourself in a hole over heartbreak. Just over halfway, we’re took into the beyond of what feels like a never-ending battle of trying to feel better. With the guitar sounding in pain when it exclaims with the guitar effects, this song is creepy in the most magical way possible.

“Two Life” is another previous Our Girl song that we’re familiar with. Our Girl are probably most memorable for their great, guitar melodies and Two Life demonstrates this. Every song so far has built to this big, explosive part and has not let us down. The instrumental part of Two Life is in your face and there’s no ignoring it. It’s everything you want for a wild, alternative rock band. Soph said in a previous interview with Clash Magazine, that Bill created the weird, guitar parts by rubbing a screwdriver over the guitar, while it was drowned in fuzz and distortion. Genius. This track just shows that the band bounce off each other and influenced by one another to create this exciting sound for us. The aggression and walls of sound are just complete fire.

One of the first single Our Girl released 3 years ago is a lovely song called “Level.”  Honestly, it has come such a long way since then. Soph’s breath like vocals are sensitive and addicted to listen to as they just draw you in. Level is about an important relationship of Soph’s collapsing. She wrote a lot of songs on this album about that experience. She lived opposite a park called the Level, hence the title of the track. It’s a very natural song that seems to be a huge hit for Our Girl. Level was the track that drew me into Our Girl’s music when I saw them back in November. The off putting-ness of the guitar chords in the verses leave you tense and nervous, but the chorus reassures you and makes you believe things will get better. The guitar bends and tones remind me of the same tone that James Wilsey used on the hit Chris Isaak track “Wicked Game.” Important song for the album as it features the title “I told a stranger today…”

“Sub Rosa” is still and calm. It aches in exhaustion and depression. As much as a sad song is dark, gloomy and some people don’t like to hear them, it’s what the album needed. Most of the tracks are upbeat and filled with loud, beast like guitar riffs, so hearing Sub Rosa calms us and let’s you take a deep breath for maybe more aggression is to come. The natural reverb on the drums adds this really mysterious atmosphere to the track. Sub Rosa means something that’s done in secret, meaning that the song is a lot darker than we though. Perhaps its leaning towards a relationship that’s on the edge of breaking up and one of them is hiding something dark.

Next is a grunge ballad about wanting a bit more time. Sunday’s are known for most people to be a day of rest and sometimes a bit depressing, which mirrors perfectly in “I Wish it Was Sunday.” Let’s be honest, the cheeky little guitar riff in this just makes it a whole other level. It’s like Jack White just randomly showed up at the studio that Our Girl were recording at and grabbed a guitar. Musically, the song has a Garbage type of melancholy arrangement but has the excitement of shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine brought with Only Shallow. We really hear Soph get aggressive with her vocals in this song exclaiming “my heart.” The ending was definitely needed. Everything cuts out and 3 vocals interrupt with one of the hook lines “stained with sleep, I couldn’t feel my feet, the light was perfect.”

Jazz inspired chords fill this lonely song with panic before reassurance cools down the “Heat.” A shadow of reverb hits you hard with the simplicity of the song, but shows how complex it is with the difficult guitar riff taking us into a big space of what feels like a confused brain, before bringing us back into the safe haven of the second verse. The guitar work is very Jeff Buckley inspired, whereas the vocals are completely just Soph at possibly, one of her best vocals takes on the album. Heat is a perfect conclusion to panic. Anxious people get flustered and hot when they’re alarmed.

The last track on the album is filled with layers of wonderful things. It’s like they made “Boring” like a cake and just put all the best ingredients into it, including; clever guitar melodies, soft harmonies, loose bass lines, hard drums and they’ve mixed it all with their shoegaze-fuzz. As it hits 3:36, the song goes into an almost 3 minutes of what feels like an impromptu jam session, in a weird african rhythm, that’s only contagious to dance too. The song builds to this huge ending. A big ball of noise is made that’s filled with passion, before coming to a close of a truly, fantastic debut album from Our Girl.

Favourite Tracks: Our Girl, Being Around, In My Head, Josephine, Two Life, Level, I Wish It Was Sunday, Heat, Boring

Score: 9/10

 

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