Sea Girls – ‘Open Up Your Head’ review: introspective indie anthems for anxious times

Melancholy and realistic about the modern youth's struggles, Sea Girls' debut does enough to avoid indie's usual hedonistic pitfalls

Sea Girls have always unashamedly worshipped at the altar of indie – some of their biggest influences, they say, are the stalwarts: The Killers, The Strokes. But there’s always been something far more interesting bubbling away under the surface rather than just rehashing their heroes’ former glories – the London group’s early EPs toyed with the reflective and brooding side of the well-worn genre.

After year’s slogging away with electric live shows, this year’s ‘Under Exit Lights’ EP saw Sea Girls come good on marrying the ambition to push into melancholy ground and still pack the bombast of the aforementioned influences. A rescheduled for O2 Academy Brixton in London later this year has already sold out, but that venue already feels too small for the scale of these songs. ‘Open Up Your Head’ is a heartfelt beast that isn’t afraid of dreaming big or broaching the endless hellscape that is shit mental health. Introspective anthems for anxious times; no wonder it’s connecting with fans.

Despite the dizzying joy of ‘Closer’ or the Pixies-referencing ‘Shake’, ‘Open Up Your Head’ isn’t content with being another boozy indie album about heady nights and good times. Taking influence from frontman Henry Camamile’s own mental health battles, ‘Damage Done’ is full of drink, drugs and plenty of regret. It’s the depression-pop of ‘Do You Really Wanna Know’ that sees the band at their most interesting though as they blend self-loathing, uncertainty and anguish into a ravenous summertime anthem. Not since The Wombats moved to New York has indie-emo sounded this electric.

Rather than play up to the eternal teenage escape that is being in a band, Sea Girls try to twist that tragic trope into something more meaningful. “I’m not going to live forever, why would I even try?” asks Camamile ‘Forever’. “Kill the past, forget the future,” he demands on the desert runaway of ‘Weight In Gold’ as the band try to embrace the present, while ‘Ready For More’ laughs at rose-tinted nostalgia (“Learning to drive, first time getting high…best time of your life, how shit if that’s right?”).

‘Open Up Your Head’ is an accomplished debut that takes Sea Girls’ brand of indie-rock on countless new adventures, and leaves plenty of doors ajar for further exploration for a genre in dire need of a kick up the backside.

Details

  • Release date: August 14
  • Record label: Polydor
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