Muncie Girls Trump Debut Album with Sophomore Record ‘Fixed Ideals’
Fixed Ideals is the second album from Exeter rockers Muncie Girls, following their debut LP, From Caplan to Belsize (2016). This band is a cross between The Primatives and Transvision Vamp, alongside an air of The Suncharms; basically encapsulating all things indie pop and indie rock, but with a quirky edge thanks to their often politically-fuelled and angry lyrics that cover a range of issues. The trio consist of Lande Hekt on bass, rhythm guitar, and vocals; Dean McMullen on lead guitar; and Luke Ellis on drums.
The album starts with the impending bass riff of opening track ‘Jeremy’, immediately evoking a 90s vibe which promises either a Green Day style bubble-gum punk anthem, or an indie pop track reminiscent of The Killers (more specifically the breakdown of ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’).
Once the drums kick in, lead singer Hekt’s sweet and distinct vocals quickly come into play, with her South Western twang creeping through to bring a refreshing sense of deadpan to lyrics such as “I’m so angry/ I’m gonna get a tattoo, that says ‘Fuck Jeremy Clarkson, and fuck you too!’” The chorus of this track really grows on you; becoming surprisingly catchy; paired with some great guitar work which gradually gets heavier just as the vocals become more passionate, successfully emitting the band’s more punky vibes.
The second track ‘Picture of Health’ conveys a sort of rocky sound that I think can be best described as ‘shoegaze on steroids’. The lyrics refer to, in my eyes, the importance of looking after yourself and others. These heartfelt and important themes of friendship are also apparent in the later, punchy song ‘Laugh Again’ with “You’ve been so sad for so long/ I wanna see you laughing again my friend”.
‘Picture of Health’ effortlessly glides into ‘High’ which is a continuation of the shoegaze vibes but with a much lighter feel, reflecting the track’s title, with airy lyrics such as “I just want to feel real”, contrasted with the harsher, more political side “we’re playing a game, we know who to blame, they tell us again and again and again ‘it’s those pesky refugees and lazy claiming families’.
‘Clinic’ again conveys these indie vibes, achieved via a deep bass and some nice punchy applications of guitar. This is contrasted alongside Hekt’s raw and real lyrics of frustration and helplessness, regarding her battle with mental health and the importance of the NHS. Some of the most emotional tones can be heard in the melancholic ‘Falling Down’ where stripped back vocals, bursting with emotion complement lazy rolling drums, and blunt, honest lyrics “I’m gonna stop smiling, when it doesn’t feel like the right thing”.
‘Bubble Bath’ begins with plucky guitars, almost convincing you into thinking you’re listening to a U2 track, until of course Hekt’s vocals sweetly deliver “I feel like a child with shampoo in my eyes”. As the bubbles sound effect will make you check your surroundings for a rogue fish tank, the graceful yet personal and reflective lyrics such as “I remember saying that I’m gonna give up eating animals”, contrast nicely with the lighthearted, and child-like nostalgia of this track.
The guitars of ‘Locked Up’ and ‘Fig Tree’ are reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub, while the killer riff of ‘In Between Bands’ make this stand out as a dramatic track on the album; with all tracks conveying a sense of angst throughout Hekt’s passionate yet syrupy vocals, which definitely allude to Sinead O’Connor in places.
Another stand out track is ‘Hangovers’ where Muncie Girls’ heavy style is swapped for soft guitars, and deeper vocals to create a folky little number. It’s a nice break from the full-on intensity of the album. It’s refreshing and different; and reflects the title as it tries to be softer, through airy pianos and soft melodies.
The album’s finale ‘Family of Four’ conveys the band’s political honesty, with lyrics concerning Hekt’s upbringing and being raised by a single mother “it’s all we can afford” and “thinking that the welfare state would support someone like me”. This track gradually fades out nicely, which is a nice, calm end to a smashing album.
Overall, this album is absolutely worth a listen (or several!). It’s one that positively grows on you, and will almost definitely become one of your favourites, as the infectious sugar-coated grunge tracks get stuck in your head and allow you to appreciate the wonder that is Muchie Girls.
P.S If you’re inspired enough, you may want to try and catch them on their upcoming world tour – kicking off in Manchester on the 26th!!!
By Megan Wood