The day Brexit was voted for remains tragic for millions. For this post-punk band, that day wasn’t all bad since they got signed to Rough Trade. With drive and good humour (they are named after comedian Bill Hicks’ character ‘Goat Boy’ after all ), the following two years saw this four-piece release their self-titled debut LP and supported The Fall in their final London show before Mark E. Smith’s death.
With new bassist Holy Hole (Holly Mullineaux) replacing Naima Jelly and letting synth arpeggios drive their musical direction; On All Fours promises to be an entirely different record from their 2018 debut.
Opening with “Pest” with a lo-fi acoustic introduction, EDM sounds subtly begin to surface with natural drumming with Lottie Cream (Lottie Pendlebury) singing “ I have no shame when I say, stay the fuck away”. “Badibaba” provides closure to “Pest” with jazz-like basslines which explode into a synth and sax laden cacophony whilst symbolising internal or external anxieties with lyrics such as “carry on like were protected – as if we’re all infected” and climatic layering of synths, distorted beats with bass and chilling organ keys.
The brilliance of On All Fours is how multifaceted it is musically. The album unexpectedly meanders back and forth with human emotions without the listener expecting or preparing for changes. “Jazz (In the Supermarket)” restores the pent up unnerving anxiety from “Badibaba” with chilled funk which graduates into an exciting and elating cloud burst of trumpets before restoring a mild discordance of bass and guitar. Likewise, “Once Again” makes great use of echoing vocals, distorted bass and rhythm guitar which spontaneously changes to a more haunting mood with broken beats, sax and distorted EDM sounds. Despite no guitars, the outro will be reminded of The Beatles “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” playout off-beat chord progressions. Following song “P.T.S.Tea” begins without delay as a happy and youthful synth coated bubble gum pop track.
“Closing In” has a funky opening amidst keys and chords found on Lemon Jelly’s “Spacewalk (Lost Horizons)” along with Madchester style guitar riffs. “Sad Cowboy” begins with late seventies/early eighties synths which becomes acquainted with a rodeo guitar style of rock. The penultimate track, “Where do we go?” sees Lily Allen style vocals with broken drum loops and deeper bass which then jumps into a sea change of synths and fuzzy guitars.
Goat Girl has moved away from politically charged lyrics from their debut to focus on mental health and anxiety. For example, “Sad Cowboy” centres on “the idea of losing a grip on reality and how often this can happen. When you’re within a world that constantly makes you feel as though you’re living out a really bad dream, disillusionment is inevitable.” “Anxiety Feels” reveals how coping mechanisms are far from simple remedies: “I don’t wanna be on those pills, I think they numb the way you feel”. Nonetheless, one still senses a whiff of politically charged protest on “The Crack”: “The crack was singing protest songs. The people wouldn’t listen, they didn’t care. They were singing question songs…”
With such a roller-coaster of unexpected musical personality changes, the listener receives a cooldown on playout track “A-Men”. The bongo beats unassumingly play well with the overriding calming and wind down ambience provided alongside gentle, soft, understated synths, saxophone and progressive guitar chords as the listener prepares to get off this ride of unpredictable and diverse personalities.
On All Fours is a story of change for a band who has changed their line-up, lyrical messages and moved away from post-punk to embrace synths’ experimental possibilities. The spectrum of juxtaposing sounds and influences is not what one would expect would go well together but become mesmerising. Most impressive of all, Goat Girl did this without having to sample other artists heavily. Change has worked well for Goat Girl. Could further changes spell an end to Goat Girl rehearsing in L.E.D. (Ellie Rose Davies) mum’s garage?