Wonky, weird and resolutely DIY, South London’s Goat Girl make the kind of ragged, jagged music that’s at once spookily ominous and utterly exhilarating. The four piece’s debut album is a grubby, clattering thing that takes its lead from 1980s LA punk trailblazers like X and The Gun Club, who took traditional country music and fed it moonshine until it fell down in a ditch, then scraped the mud off its jeans, handed it a microphone and a broken electric guitar and made it walk through broken glass to sing in a grotty toilet venue bar over a broken PA system. Goat Girl have mixed this scrappy sound with the gothic ennui of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the doomy experimentalism of Tom Waits. The result is a late-night swagger through the murky underbelly of the town that Clottie Cream, Rosy Bones, Naima Jelly and L.E.D. – not, we assume, their birth names – call home, coming in at 19 swirling songs in 40 punchy minutes. It even includes a song that describes their very sound, the Pixies-esque belter ‘Country Sleaze’, thus rendering the past paragraph of me picking apart their sonics almost entirely pointless. Ah well.
If you’re thinking, though, that the naturally bucolic nature of country music doesn’t quite fit in with the hustle and bustle of lights-out London, then you’d be very wrong indeed. Goat Girl’s gritty take makes their message even more potent. ‘Creep’ relays a tale that most can relate to; that of a public transport pervert who won’t let up or put his dick away. Pogues-worthy strings add an odd wistfulness to the sound of Clottie singing about how she’d like to smash the head in of a man who’s filming her on the train. We know how you feel, Clottie.
Things get murkier with ‘The Man’, which recalls fellow south London reprobates Fat White Family thanks to eager kick drum, hollered lyrics and their rowdy, everyone-in-the-back-room-of-the-pub-singing-along delivery. A cover of Bugsy Malone ballad ‘Tomorrow’ closes Goat Girl’s debut with a sultry torch-song feeling – proof that these guys are far from a one-trick pony. Or goat, for that matter.