Goat Girl

About Goat Girl

Defining waste as something that is unnecessary, unnatural or no longer useful is key to unlocking the message of Goat Girl’s third studio album Below the Waste.

Doubling up as a striking visual metaphor for the ugliness of oppressive structures, or as a by-product of modern society that they must break through, Goat Girl encourage you to imagine a world where such barriers are stripped away on this 16 track offering.

Progressing from their angst-fuelled self-titled debut (2018), to the escapist world of sophomore LP On All Fours (2021), the South London trio, consisting of Rosy Jones, Lottie Pendlebury and Holly Mullineaux, enter their most self-assured era in 2024. Co-produced alongside John ‘Spud’ Murphy (black midi’s Cavalcade and more recently Lankum’s Mercury-nominated False Lankum), Goat Girl’s approach to Below the Waste is confident and mature, whilst maintaining a playful sense of curiosity and wonderment. Delving deeper into the extremes of their distinctive sound, Spud’s knowledge, enthusiasm and patience provided a safe pair of hands to bring Goat Girl’s lofty ambitions to life. Weaving effortlessly between disparate elements of expansive noise-rock, delicate folk experimentation and satisfying synth-pop, their unique combination of styles and unorthodox recording methods is a testament to their new collaborative production style.

Pieced together like a collage over an extended period of time, the instrumentation was tracked mostly over a 10 day stint in Ireland at Hellfire Studios, in the shadow of the infamous Hellfire Club itself. Additional strings (Reuben Kyriakides and Nic Pendlebury), woodwind instruments (Alex McKenzie) and vocals (including a choir made up of family and friends) were added to this framework at a number of locations, from a barn in Essex to Goat Girl’s own studio in South London. This luxury of time gave the band the freedom to produce, write and arrange as they went along, allowing the songs to be explored to their full potential. They explain: “We added anything and everything we could get our hands on, and from there, we pulled away.” The resulting texture is dynamic, intimate and cinematic.

From the varied styles of vocal delivery, which range from gentle and restrained to blood-curdling and raw, to the tasteful incorporation of voice notes, samples, animal noises and miscellaneous objects used in unconventional ways; Goat Girl’s innovative use of their surroundings results in a sonic world that belongs to them alone. Going heavier than ever before on avant-garde instrumental composition ‘jump sludge’, unlikely love song ‘sleep talk’ and full-throttle number ‘tcnc’, the blissed-out nursery rhyme of ‘pretty faces’, the ambient field recording of ‘tonight’ and the triumphant electronica of ‘motorway’ and ‘play it down’ demonstrate an ongoing exploration of darkness and light. In playing with such stark contrasts, Goat Girl’s consideration of space and flow is vital, placing lo-fi vignettes ‘reprise’, ‘prelude’ and ‘s.m.o.g’ strategically to offer moments of reflection, which counteract the grandiosity of Below the Waste’s dense orchestral arrangements.

Thematically, the absurdity of our increasingly dystopian environment is exposed through the magical realism of Lottie’s lyrics, often setting the surreal and the painfully relatable side by side. From melting cars to the abolition of surveillance on ‘perhaps’, the record conveys a desire to imagine a future that discards oppressive structures and in turn makes us consider what that world would look like. Meanwhile, ‘ride around’ takes a worts-and-all stance on forming new connections, embracing the messiness of being human in search of unencumbered joy. Opening themselves up on a number of tracks, Goat Girl’s compassion and vulnerability repeatedly comes across as strength. Playing out like a conversation between the three bandmates, ‘words fell out’, ‘take it away’ and ‘tcnc’ all refer to Rosy Bones’ struggle with addiction and their journey towards recovery – a time that deeply affected the whole band, but with each other’s unconditional love, support, and shared sense of camaraderie, they made it through. Within the context of the album as a whole, we are able to celebrate the beauty of collectivism, community and most of all friendship.

Whilst the band’s tightly-held political values are applied in a more nuanced way for the most part, cutting lines across the album are placed to have maximum impact. From the visceral screams on ‘tcnc’ as Rosy Bones writes ‘there’s too many people on their knees’, to Lottie releasing an unruly pack of hounds onto those that hoard power on the closing opus ‘wasting’, Goat Girl pick their moments carefully and call out injustices they observe within the waste motif. As they look beneath it all, what is uncovered are the things that should be cherished in life – the beauty and joy this record strives towards. The physical destruction that pervades its tracklist – the sinking, the swallowing, the mud and the examination of the undergrowth – are the reminders of the all-consuming power of nature that we can so often ignore, as the group imagine the reconstruction of a fairer, more compassionate, society.

There is no doubt that Below the Waste is Goat Girl’s most accomplished work to date, and in their boldest iteration yet, they have become the most powerful and authentic version of themselves.

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