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Muncie Girls - Fixed Ideals (Album Review)

Thursday, 13 September 2018 Written by Huw Baines

‘Fixed Ideals’ begins in medias res. Lande Hekt is tired, anxious and furiously angry. “I’m gonna get a tattoo that says: fuck Jeremy Clarkson and fuck you too,” she sings. The album’s opener is something of a blueprint for what follows, fusing fabulous melodies with brass tacks insights into her own life and a vivid, despondent view of a world that has lurched right with little concern for the people getting crushed in the gears.

Muncie Girls’ second LP is one of the finest explorations yet of what it’s actually like to be a young person in the UK at the moment. Hekt writes from her own perspective and those of others, alternately becoming caught in a Kafkaesque maze at the Department of Work and Pensions and staring down the NHS’s underfunded mental health services. The lyric sheet is pocked with references to Tory avarice, xenophobic media coverage and frustrations that eventually manifest as one long, billowing sigh.

But this isn’t an album of empty slogans, headline-friendly rallying cries or anything like that. Instead, Muncie Girls are concerned with how these acts of aggression - big and small, vicious and petty - affect people. It doesn’t exist in the abstract.

“Oh well, I grew up powerless and I'll die just the same,” Hekt sings when closing the album with the desperate Family of Four. “I’ll go from the afternoon to the night shift all for someone else's gain." The closing statement: "Bottom rung is where I'll stay.”

There’s a balancing act at play, with Hekt’s own experiences adding colour between the lines. The pithy put downs on Jeremy are reserved for her right-wing father - “presents won’t do when there’s presence past due” - while on Falling Down she discusses dropping booze from her life and her decision to quit humouring bigoted men. “I’m gonna stop smiling when it doesn’t feel like the right thing,” she sings.

The songs here also up the ante from the band’s debut, ‘From Caplan to Belsize’. Any changes are certainly more in the realm of refinement rather than a fresh start, but the playful flashes of piano - notably a wonderful lead line on the acoustic Hangovers - and chiming glockenspiel notes add rich pop textures to Dean McMullen’s bank of indie-punk guitars and the sometimes thunderous playing of drummer Luke Ellis. A note too for the production, by Lewis Johns, which is clean and crisp without feeling sterile.

‘Fixed Ideals’ is an example of how a band can, essentially, keep doing what they’ve always done while also creating something that will stand on its own when compared to their other work. Muncie Girls have had the songs, and the words to back them up, since the early days, but here everything feels very focused on now. This record will perhaps become a time capsule one day, but as it stands its truths sting because we encounter them around every corner.

Muncie Girls Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Wed September 26 2018 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Thu September 27 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Cuban Embassy
Fri September 28 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City - The Basement
Sat September 29 2018 - NEWCASTLE Think Tank Underground
Sun September 30 2018 - GLASGOW Glasgow Garage
Mon October 01 2018 - LONDON Borderline
Tue October 02 2018 - NORWICH UEA Waterfront Studio
Wed October 03 2018 - SOUTHAMPTON Joiners

Click here to compare & buy Muncie Girls Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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