Goat Girl - Goat Girl (Indies Violet)
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Goat Girl's name may come from a Bill Hicks sketch, but taken on its own, it suggests a mythical, witchy female power that abounds on the band's self-titled debut album. While none of the band's members -- Clottie Cream, Naima Jelly, L.E.D., and Rosy Bones -- were over 20 when they recorded these songs, their smoldering mix of post-punk attitude, goth atmosphere, and country twang has roots that go deep and wide into English indie, calling to mind fierce artists like PJ Harvey, Siouxsie Sioux, Electrelane, and PINS. This connection -- and occasional tension -- between past and present informs the album in fascinating ways. Instead of the overt social commentary of early singles like the Brexit lament "Scum," this time Goat Girl favor a more timeless approach. On "Throw Me a Bone," they contrast images that could be ancient ("Throw me a bone/And I'll throw back a stone") with flashes of modern yearning ("If you take me home/Then you'll end up alone"). Even on "Creep," which concerns the very 21st century predicament of being filmed on the train by a stranger, Goat Girl's seething anger is the most important thing; Cream sounds supremely self-possessed as she mutters "I wanna smash your head in." Her gritty alto is the emotional fulcrum of Goat Girl's music, lending the band a surprising -- and welcome -- maturity. She's alluring yet commanding on the velvety "Lay Down" and the eye of the storm on outbursts like "I Don't Care, Pt. 1" and "Burn the Stake." Indeed, the main indication that this is Goat Girl's first try at making an album is its sheer size: At 19 songs long, it feels like it includes every idea the band had on hand, including snippets that teeter between tantalizing and distracting. Tracks such as "Hank's Theme" and "Moonlight Monkey" add to Goat Girl's atmosphere but sometimes lose the momentum generated by its full-fledged songs. Similarly, while the album's wide canvas allows Goat Girl to express moods that range from "Tomorrow"'s shambling romance to the spooky outsider pop of "Slowly Reclines," more than a few songs feel unfinished ("Little Liar" could have gone on for at least another minute). Fortunately, Goat Girl's singles offer a more pulled-together version of the band's bracing sound, whether it's the wry jangle of "Cracker Drool," the hip-shaking sass of "The Man," or the sexy, sneering defiance of "Country Sleaze." Moments like these are so compelling that they suggest Goat Girl are just beginning to tap into their potential on this exciting debut.