The trauma and turbulence of adolescence has been quaking across the release calendar of late. Amid the pandemic, we’ve seen a host of emerging heroes dispatch coming-of-age classics. Last year Sam Fender’s ‘Seventeen Going Under’ carved his upbringing into a harrowing and brutal statement, while 19-year-old Olivia Rodrigo’s debut full-length ‘Sour’ tackled such the seismic melodrama of growing up through a scuzzy pop lens.
On their second album ‘Homesick’, Londoners Sea Girls are the latest gang attempting to channel such emotions. Speaking to NME last year, frontman Henry Camamile explained that forced time back in his Lincolnshire stomping ground shaped things: “It made me think about being 17, being immature and figuring life out. It made me think about big things: life choices, how I’ve behaved, my family, how my grandparents grew up. It’s rooted in where I came from.”
Propelled by a glossy indie sound hell-bent on dragging the band up festival bills, opener ‘Hometown’ expresses this best. Camamile brims with stony tension as he reels through the lovesick anthem. The lyricism, though, quickly defuses the dramatic backdrop: “Lemonade / Ripped jeans / Nothing feels real when you’re 17”. The band often struggle in carving their pivotal years into the profound, opting for lines straight from the college smoking area: “She’s older now / She’s really fit / She’ll always be the last girl you kissed.”
Unfortunately, the pedestrian lyricism is at play throughout. Take ‘Sick’, which comes off as a drab list of confessions against plucky pop guitars The 1975 found fame with a decade ago: “I‘m sick of drugs / I’m sick of bad habits / I’m sick of good looks / ‘Cause I don’t have it.” Elsewhere, on the otherwise fun country-tinged indie of ‘Lonely’, he sings of other hardships it’s hard to find empathy for: namely, how starting a band scuppered romantic plans.
The album does pack more meaningful moments. ‘Paracetamol Blues’ sees the band lean into the main stage swagger of The Killers, buoyed building gritty guitars and a more earnest vocal. ‘Lucky’ is another anthem that feels more sincere, dealing with a prescient acknowledgement of gratitude as Camamile’s ruminates on his grandparents’ upbringing: “Sometimes people grow up in war / Not knowing what the adults are fighting for.”
There’s no doubting that Sea Girls are a band daring to dream big – they’ll even headline London’s 10,000-capacity Alexandra Palace later this year. The problem is, such weighty ambition is left off this album, which too often finds them content on taking the easy road.
Release date: March 18
Record label: Polydor