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Girl Ray - Girl (Album Review)

Wednesday, 27 November 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Photo: Laura McCluskey

Album two from Girl Ray appears on the surface to be a stylistic about face, with the earnest indie-pop jangle of their 2017 debut ‘Earl Grey’ replaced by glimmering synths and pin-sharp g-funk leads. But the truth is a little less complicated, and less sensational, than that.

The reality of ‘Girl’ is that it possesses the same strengths, and some of the weaknesses, of its predecessor. The title track might pop and whirr like a Shoreditch refit of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, but Poppy Hankin’s guitar strokes and mannered melodies could have happily emerged alongside their early standout single Trouble.

Having too strong a songwriting identity is hardly a problem, though. Girl Ray have cited the rise of Ariana Grande to chart pop’s major leagues as a driver behind their new sound, but in truth any outside influences are swallowed whole by their own idiosyncrasies.

During Girl, Hankin sings: “I wanna move right up next to you, wear my t-shirt by the pool.” It’s almost too perfect. See also the ringing chords of the standout Show Me More: Nile Rodgers by way of suburban romance.

Hankin’s mellifluous voice, meanwhile, suits the subtlety of the hooks, elevating a rote synth-pop number such as Because. But it can also be derailed by a genre exercise like Takes Time, where she’s swamped by PSwuave’s guest verses and a grab of acoustic guitar that brings the era-defining R&B of TLC’s No Scrubs crashing through the ceiling.

Girl Ray may not have completely stuck the landing here, but ‘Girl’ reinforces their standing among a strong set of indie bands bubbling under. They are a particular treat for pop nerds seeking music that squares the circle between Abba, Teenage Fanclub and Carly Rae Jepsen. Their next experiment will be worth tuning in for.

Girl Ray Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu January 30 2020 - IPSWICH Smokehouse
Tue February 18 2020 - BIRMINGHAM Hare And Hounds
Wed February 19 2020 - LEEDS Belgrave Music Hall
Thu February 20 2020 - GLASGOW Stereo Cafe Bar
Fri February 21 2020 - MANCHESTER YES (The Pink Room)
Sat February 22 2020 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social Club
Sun February 23 2020 - CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
Tue February 25 2020 - BRISTOL THE FLEECE
Wed February 26 2020 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Thu February 27 2020 - BRIGHTON Chalk

Click here to compare & buy Girl Ray Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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