This was originally published in The Indiependent.
Nearly three years have passed since Goat Girl announced their unmistakably defiant presence with their self-titled debut album, and On All Fours is irrefutable evidence that their quest for change is far from over.
Keeping hold of producer Dan Carey, On All Fours says goodbye to the two-minute jaunty-punk hits from their first offering and embraces a braver, more daring and more complete sound. Enlightened lyricism and recruitment of whirlwind synths lead a stylistic sprawl that sees Goat Girl transform themselves from post-punk pragmatics to other-worldly observers of a society in harrowing decline. Less burning the Tories at the stake (not as overtly expressed this time round, anyway) and more inquisitive analysis into the self and its social surrounding.
Don’t be fooled into thinking On All Fours is a nihilistic retreat, however. Every track is laced with an undercurrent of electronica carefully arranged to create a sense of bubbling optimism, best showcased by lead single and emphatic album centrepiece ‘Sad Cowboy’. ‘Badibaba’, meanwhile, channels the attitude of Au Pairs in portraying a fractious and complacent relationship between Earth and humanity, where we “ Carry on like we’re protected / As if we’re unaffected”.
Though, Goat Girl are at their best in On All Fours at their most unconventional and experimental. ‘Jazz (In The Supermarket)’ is the first act of far-reaching eccentricity, an instrumental of genre-fusing delicacy that sits oceans apart from the country-tinged rock that defined their early releases. ‘P.T.S.Tea’ is perhaps the most excellently outlandish of the canon, where a Casio-core backing joins drummer-turned-vocalist Rosy Bones’ deadpan recounting of a tea-burning episode. Pushing the track to its confines comes a wonderfully murky slab of distorted guitar, a jagged edge to the cleaner tones of the track.
At times, the attempts to merge different sounds can be a little awkward. ‘Once Again’ lacks a fluency and connectedness between different sections which can make it a somewhat tricky song to really grab a hold of. But this is only a symptom of creative development, and to reduce Goat Girl’s evolution to the introduction of synths does little justice in presenting the true artistic breadth of On All Fours. Elements of an expansive host of genres, including dance, R’n’B and psychedelia, have been worked into the grooves with astuteness usually exhibited much further down along the discography, let alone in second albums.
It seems that the only way to truly describe On All Fours is in its essence — this is an album for the eclectic and music for the muso. Goat Girl wear their influences proudly but dare not lurk in their shadows. Instead, they come out to forge a new, uninhibited tone of restrained optimism, refusing to go down without a fight against the turbulence and uncertainty of our time.
Words by Jamie Bains