Girl Friday are indie rockers, but this definition does little to pinpoint who they actually are. They’re less of a band and more of a group of young, talented, emotional friends who see more in life than what’s in front of them. This is best demonstrated in a brief scene in the groovy yet dispirited “Public Bodies,” the brooding fourth track on their new album Androgynous Mary: “At the church, they kicked us out / ’Cause we were useless / But we were trying / Just looking for something to reach us.”
They’re misunderstood; they live in their own bubble, surrounded by equally depressed friends. The opening track, “This is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For,” gives us a preview of this bubble—which feels like walking in on a small party between a close-knit throng of college students: “You’ve got some?fickle friends / And I’ve got a bad brain / Our sadness keeps us stupid / But for now it’s fun and games.” Weird, adolescent energy floats through this song, and the vocals narrate the scene in a fragmented, emotive style: “Gas station casinos and a boy named Cheddar / We’d never know hell if it wasn’t for this.”
The perspective is often tinged with nostalgia—despite the fact that they haven’t even been alive for very long. This may be due to the fact that they’re a part of a generation whose idea of the future is rather dark and blurry, an anxiety that manifests on this record as an apocalyptic theme. It hangs over the playfulness and gratitude like a memorial for something that is on the verge of ending.
On the aforementioned “This is Not the Indie Rock I Signed Up For,” Girl Friday pose larger questions: “How great is your faith if it keeps you up? / How real are your words if you say them on the phone?” The modern day existential crisis has been infiltrated with greater questions about technology along with religion and the universe, and Girl Friday weave them together naturally as fellow Zoomers. The following track “Amber’s Knees (A Matter of Concern)” is a musical embodiment of a panic attack: “Crushed by the why / Crushed by the if / Frightened by nothing,” they sing, deadpan against a post-punk backdrop. It leads to creepy territory, almost like a nightmare coming to life: “Maggots dress up in the meat / I eat, I eat, I eat.”
A few songs manage to set aside the existential crises for a moment and dwell on more mundane turmoils like love and friendship. “What We Do It For” lingers in the space in between jaded and exhilarated, recounting lost passion. Ghostly vocals harmonize and cry out: “If we have no love in our hearts / I wonder what we do it for,” and a brazen, impactful instrumental takes over. It sounds as cathartic and colossal as one of Porridge Radio ’s introspective rock ballads. After this track, there’s no room to breathe—the album catapults into “Earthquake.” Mischievous riffs erupt and everything takes a punk turn: “I just want to feel like an earthquake / Everything is boring for fuck’s sake,” the band sings. It circles back to this idea of apocalypse; as a generation with a weird perception of the future, we thrive off of immediacy. We want instant pleasure and constant preoccupation. The restless quartet aren’t ashamed of this, though—they demand to be satisfied.
Sampling The White Stripes’ biggest hit “Seven Nation Army,” Girl Friday put a sneaky, seductive bassline at the forefront of the menacing “Gold Stars.” The harmonies are what make the song; they’re haunting and powerful, while the lyrics cut deep: “I said, ‘leave,’ I said ‘leave,’ I said, ‘leave,’ / But you heard, ‘love.’” It’s intense, and it escalates quickly: “My body is a gun / And you keep it in your bed.”
Androgynous Mary is as morbid of a record as you’d expect from a bunch of L.A. punks. They’re disturbed, but entertained; they’re young, but disillusioned. If Androgynous Mary were a place, it would probably be a strange corner in the dark web controlled by Zoomers with good intentions and confused brains.
Danielle Chelosky is a New York based writer who interned at Paste and freelances for The FADER, MTV News, Consequence of Sound, and more. She’s from Long Island, goes to school in Westchester, and lingers in Brooklyn. She embarrasses herself on her Twitter @dniellechelosky