Girl Friday: Androgynous Mary (Hardly Art) - review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020  

Girl Friday

Androgynous Mary

Hardly Art

Sep 02, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


For the perfect introduction to the frustrations Girl Friday explores on Androgynous Mary, look no further than the album cover. When creating the cover of the band’s long-awaited debut LP, the band members drew inspiration from an androgynous portrait of the Virgin Mary. Amid muted hues, the stern titular Androgynous Mary simmers with a stern anger drawn from a lifetime on the margins. The band mines that very same anger and exhaustion, along with their solipsistic anxieties, to create an immediately arresting cocktail of post punk, indie, grunge, and goth rock. 

Although Androgynous Mary is the band’s debut LP, Girl Friday immediately displays rich chemistry and dynamic instincts. While the band largely stays in the broader worlds of indie and post-punk, they don’t pidgeon-hole themselves either. The band sounds restless, changing the pace and style of each song quickly and effortlessly while drawing in influences old and new. With four frontwomen taking on vocal duties and so much dynamism within the songs themselves, it would seemingly be easy for all the moving parts to crash together and burn. Yet on tracks such as “Public Bodies” the band moves between chiming indie, Cure-esque goth rock, and breakneck punk chants with a natural ease. That versatility not only keeps the album engaging but is also a testament to the band’s collective chemistry.

There is a sense of alienation that runs throughout the album as the band delves into a perennial sense of otherness. Girl Friday zeroes in on the specifically gendered aspects of rejection on the dynamic highlight “Public Bodies” asking, “Does the average man feel like he’s on the outside?” Earlier in the tracklist, these concerns approach body horror imagery on “Eaten Thing.” The bass driven sludge of the instrumental matches the gothic lyrics as the band intones, “I’m ripped open/Dripping on your toes/Covered by my insides.” Elsewhere, that sense of otherness manifests in uproarious instrumental moments such as on “Earthquake.” The track is all hard-hitting riffs and punk attitude, resulting in the most immediate and bracing cut on the record as the band lashes out against complacency. 

But it would be reductive to describe the album as just an exercise in rage. Girl Friday knows when to pull back, creating some understated and beautiful instrumental moments. These slow burning tracks are among the most heartfelt and keep the band’s gnarled post punk from becoming one note. “Clotting” immediately follows the killer punk rock of “Earthquake” with possibly the most aching moment on the album. The band conjures some of the album’s most vivid imagery on this track, comparing trauma to long-lasting wounds as they “Pray for clotting.” The band also finds unity amidst alienation on the opener, “This Is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For.” The glassy vocal harmonies and chiming guitars descend into cacophonous noise as the band sings, “I’m so happy you’re here/I’m so happy you’re with me.” The closer, “I Hope Jason Is Happy” is similarly hopeful. The structure mirrors the opener as but with a purposeful march in the instrumental. The song builds steadily, allowing the instrumental to carry the track before the lyrics come in late in the track—“My head is on your chest/In the end, I’ll be happy if you do your best/You’ve got to fight to keep your breath in this world.” Such sentiments permeate the album, giving the sense that despite the disaffected sheen to the band’s music, Girl Friday finds common purpose in their pain.

Girl Friday have delivered an exceptionally promising debut with Androgynous Mary. The band’s marriage of indie rock and post punk is perhaps not the most novel, but they deploy it with morbid imagery and personal malcontent that make clear their vision and ethos. The final product, like many fantastic albums, is greater than the sum of its parts. The palpable chemistry between the band members creates an album that both voices shared trauma and responds to it with an invigorating collective spirit. (www.girlfridayband.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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