Muncie Girls have already been touted as ones to watch in 2016, what with their all too relatable lyrics of being a young person in such a self–aware society, all wrapped up in punk sentiments. Judging by debut full-length From Caplan To Belsize, the initial buzz around the Exeter band is well deserved and will last for quite a while to come.
The band instantly stand out on opening track Learn In School for all the right reasons, including the fact that vocalist Lande Hekt sings in an English accent, a rare occurence in the sea of faux American accents, mentioning no names (Iggy Azalea). The beat to it is hardly unique but the band own it on this socially aware track that points out all the faults in modern society, a welcome relief amongst the heartbreak that drenches the air waves today. Gone With The Wind is not the romantic epic of the film with the same name but shares the same smack in the face that Scarlett O’Hara gets with the lyrics “thought of packing it in, jumping out the window” in the opening verse. On this track, Muncie Girls mark themselves out as the lovechild of The Smiths and The Clash, with the depressing lyrics juxtaposing with the upbeat punk beats that seemingly don’t change throughout the album. Respect highlights how judgmental we are on each other and how we underestimate the effect it has until it’s too late. Whilst the music is good, if not a little throwaway, it’s hard to criticise a band who are brave enough to speak up on the things that we tend to brush under the carpet. The latter half of the song, slows down and harks back to the attempts of Avril Lavigne to be a ballad singer before (thankfully) speeding up again.
On Balloon, Muncie Girls demonstrate that they are able to make a punk ballad, quite an achievement in itself. This mini break in the middle of the album is a nice change from the melodies that never change; the rolling drums and grinding guitars are brilliant but they do get tiresome. Unfortunately the change doesn’t last long, kicking back in on Social Side. The echoey strums of the guitar tinge the song and vocals with a short of remorse and sadness, and it may be due to the nature of the lyrics. It may be an attempt to sound heartful but it comes across as a rhyming ‘thank you’ speech from the Brits. Nervous marks the point in the album when all the things that were initally fun and different become boring; the overly English accent becomes irritating and the repetitive melodies begin to merge into one huge song about the pyschology of the human race in the 21st century.
Gas Mark 4 sees a California rock feel enter the album and it works well and serves as an encouragement for better things. Thankfully, this feeling follows on I Don’t Wanna Talk About It; a fuzzy bass backs up a simple strumming of the guitar while the perfectly placed drum hits emphasis all the parts that deserve it. It truly feels like the band have left the best for the latter half of the album, almost as if they are progressing throughout the recording process as songwriters and as a band. Committee proves to be the blip in this; the band have a tendency to repeat a simple melody in order to allow their political lyrics to shine but it justs causes the audience to lose interest. No Recording is the album closer and easily the best song on the album. The problem just mentioned with the band is rectified on this and, with the new punky beat, the interest begins to seep in allowing for the lyrics to be heard louder and the message being shoved down your throat eventually begins to sink in.
Judging by the last song, Muncie Girls are an exciting band. Whilst their songs may be a bit samey, their catchiness is undeniable and they will fail to leave your head all day. The political messages and the issues of being a young person today may fail to reach some, but it is commendable that a young band are trying and, for that, they should be greatly praised.
For fans of: Above Them, River Jumpers, Pacer
Words by Clara Duffy
‘From Caplan To Belsize’ by Muncie Girls is released on 4th March on Specialist Subject.