Girl Ray: Girl (Moshi Moshi) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, December 16th, 2019  

Girl Ray

Girl

Moshi Moshi

Nov 29, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


There was a time when any attempt by an indie band to "pivot to pop" would be viewed with deep suspicion and no small amount of cynicism. But since the advent of streaming services and social media music has become a far less tribal affair with people much more open and willing to embrace a wide variety of genres. There's also a case to be argued that its actually pop music rather than indie music that has been far more innovative and experimental over recent years.

In 2017 North London three-piece Girl Ray released their debut album, Earl Grey, which was an exercise in winsome lovelorn lo-fi indie, and at times made Belle & Sebastian sound like Slipknot. That's not a criticism, by the way, they were very adept at it, but on their second album, Girl, the trio nudge their music in a slightly different direction after apparently being inspired by R&B and pop music. To help finesse their sound they enlisted the help of Metronomy and Christine & the Queens producer Ash Workman on an album that charms rather than leaves the listener amazed by this new direction.

 

The press release that accompanies the album would have you believe that this is a seismic, shift in their sound, but the thing is it's not actually quite as full-on pop as it claims to be. Some of it works extremely well and gives their lo-fi bedsit pop a real polish but on occasion some tunes simply waft by without really making an impression. "Girl" opens the album with twinkling synth flourishes and a breezy melody, with Poppy Hankin's often lachrymose vocals finding a wistful yet hopeful tone. The soulful "Down the Hall" and "Because" are sparkling sophisticated, pop tunes but "Takes Time" really doesn't come off at all and the inclusion of upcoming rapper PSwuave feels like it's been crowbarred in as a statement of intent.

 

"Show Me More" and "Friend Like That" are the perhaps the best examples of Girl Ray really hitting their pop stride, without eradicating many of the things that made them such an interesting proposition originally. It's actually the slower more downtempo tracks that work best. For example, the beautiful "Go to the Top" combining piano and woodwind is one of the album's highlights and is, in fact, one of the best songs they've released to date. 

 

There's ample evidence on Girl to suggest that Girl Ray's future direction could be a genuinely interesting and fruitful one. It's actually an album that sounds like a band experimenting with their sound and gently steering it towards a new direction rather than a radical fully formed departure from their former output. (www.girlray.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 4/10



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