By Em Carr

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Label: Moshi Moshi Records

Girl Ray’s first album, ‘Earl Grey’, was a piano based romp with strong feelings of Kent. The group comprises three cool women in their early twenties, yet 80% of their audience on the ‘Earl Grey’ tour seemed to be dads. The Guardian described the affair as having worked against the “sexy ebullience” of traditional pop. For the group’s second, they realised their true love of Ariana Grande, and from there were inspired to sex it up.

‘Girl’ saw the group work with producer Ash Workman, who facilitated Metronomy’s rise to the mainstream, producing their single ‘The Bay’ which has amassed 120 million plays on Spotify. Girl Ray put pictures up of Ariana Grande in the mixing room to remind everyone how they wanted to sound.

Despite their idol, Girl Ray doesn’t have the polished sheen of Grande. Their penchant for squealing synth, shown in title track ‘Girl’, and experimental breakdowns, as in closer ‘Like The Stars’, ensures that their genre of pop is distinctly its own.

The album opens with the sun-spangled track ‘Girl’. Songwriter Poppy Hankin realised that a lot of great pop music focuses more on the sound of words than conveying true emotion. ‘Girl’ exemplifies that, with a chorus consisting of mostly the word “girl” and oohs. It is a song anchored deeply in vibes, but the craft behind it is hidden, feeling breezier and more fun than calculating. Impressively, the song back to back references Shakespeare and Dizzee Rascal, showcasing the groups sprawling and ambitious inspirations for the album.

The album gives itself space to breathe, chronicling more of Girl Ray’s journey into pop. The fifth track, ‘Let It Go’ brings a welcome slow pace. It’s laid-back ballad, which comparably sparse instrumentation. The track capitalises on Girl Ray’s characteristic tight harmonies and breathy vocals. The track comes as a palette cleanser, before a feature track from London rapper PSwuave, which oozes cool girl energy.

The highlight of the album comes with the collaborative track, ‘Keep It Tight’. The song channels the spirit of Destiny’s Child’s ‘Girl’. It laments the trio’s lack of luck in love, and how relationships affect their friendship; ultimately feeling that their platonic love is the most important. This is the first-time drummer Iris McConnell has led in a track, and her vocals have a startling pop star edge to them. The track features a verse by each, culminating in lead Hankin proclaiming “writing songs for album two / but straight girls only fall for dudes / sad but true”. The members’ affection for each other shines through the song, and coupled with the playful lyrics, makes this track the best on the album.

‘Girl’ so closely encapsulates the feeling of being a woman in her early 20s, the sibling level friendships, wanting more from a romantic encounter and the just-expired teenage intensity. This album will help you to escape from a dreary October and transport you to a sunny poolside with your best friends.

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