Being in a band that has managed to break its way through into public consciousness is one thing, but to have that same success a second time with a completely different project is another thing entirely. And to do both simultaneously whilst in the middle of touring with the original band is something special, but that’s exactly what Big Moon guitarist and Our Girl front woman Soph Nathan has done.
Interestingly enough Our Girl was started around 5 years ago while Nathan was at university in Brighton with bassist Josh Tyler, with the band being rounded out with drummer Lauren Wilson. So it’s clear that with or without the Big Moon, Nathan was going to make herself heard.
To say this is a personal album is to state the obvious. Nathan is the ringleader here, the one in charge and the chief songwriter. Detailing connections and shared moments like in ‘I Really Like It, going through the motions of just spending time with someone hoping they feel the same way about you, where just sharing the activity of smoking is enough to believe they want you back.
The whole album is Nathan reminiscing over relationships and possible romances, yet with an underlying feeling of self-consciousness, in wondering what other people think and trying to navigate through personal thoughts and feelings. ‘In My Head’ illustrates this perfectly by combining a choir of fuzzy guitars with visceral lyrics that come to the realisation that people aren’t mind readers. That is what is most striking about the album – the sheer brilliance of its musicality, from the mix of the industrial indie rock of ‘In My Head’ to the slow build shoegaze of ‘Josephine’.
‘Josephine’ is another prime example of what makes Stranger Today such a thrilling album. Five songs in and we’ve been introduced to the soundscape that Our Girl are operating in; love lorn lyrics surrounded by plodding drums, scuzzy guitars and hypnotic bass. ‘Josephine’ turns this up to 11, taking all of these components that have worked so well on earlier songs on the record and magnifying them. It is by far one of the strongest songs on the album, finally drawing out some vitriol and venom from Nathan. Previous songs have had her airily cutting through the instrumentation around her but in ‘Josephine’ and ‘Two Life’, Nathan finds her bite, evoking Kim Gordon and Chrissie Hynde, roaring out of the cataclysmic music the band have created.
As the album enters its second half with ‘Level’, the band channels their more melodic side introducing slow guitar strums that showcase Nathan’s stunning vocals even further. Meanwhile, ‘I Wish It Was Sunday’ highlights where the band can go in the future, as the incredible harmonies at the end of the track leave you wanting more, coming out of nowhere and disappearing far to quickly.
As comparisons go the obvious influences are there: the aforementioned Sonic Youth, Joy Division and more contemporary bands like Fuzz and Thee Oh Sees (who Nathan has even mentioned that Wilson introduced her to). However, I can’t listen to Nathan’s stark and wistful vocals without being reminded of Beach House’s Victoria Legrand. Our Girl will hopefully become a gateway band for many younger listeners, who hear this incredibly fierce band and hunger for more of the same.
STRANGER TODAY BY OUR GIRL IS OUT FRIDAY (17/8) VIA CANNIBAL HYMNS. PRE-ORDER HERE:
Lead image: Hollie Fernando