It would be reductive to simply call Girl Ray a band. In fact, throughout their first headline gig at The Lexington in London, they strike me as a gang, unafraid to reveal the innermost intricacies and emotions that permeate through their catalogue.
Walking onstage in front of a full house, the North London trio, made up of Poppy Hankin, Iris McConnell and Sophie Moss, refreshingly wear their hearts on their sleeves. Instead of delivering lyrics with a lifeless vocal, akin to some bands making music today, Hankin offers the whole heart-wrenching package. Her nonchalant soprano chimes like a nightingale’s trill.
Before long, their ballsy take on ‘estrogen-pop’ ferociously kicks in, as Girl Ray open their set with two harmoniously-melodic tunes – ‘I’ll Make This Fun’ and ‘Where Am I Now’. From the off, Hankin fully connects with the songs and as a result, the audience feel as though they are part of something meaningful and pure.
‘Ghosty’ and ‘If You Like’ swiftly follow, highlighting McConnell’s aptness for creating pounding, rhythmic tones between the snare and bass drum. The swooping reprise of ‘Stupid Things’ sends the three-piece cascading into a bubbly and aquatic myriad of echoing guitars. It’s definitely the highlight of the set, and Moss’s throbbing bass, coupled with angelic melodies, projects a strange kind of clarity. It’s a haphazard reminder of the many times we’ve all tried to grab the attention of someone we like or fancy, but often with embarrassing results.
The launch of their new brand, ‘Girl Spray’ is the comic curveball of the set. It’s a makeshift concoction of Lynx Africa and Impulse wrapped in novelty, handmade Girl Ray packaging – the bidding starts at a modest £1.
Next up is ‘Just Like That’, for which McConnell rises from behind the drum set and takes up the mic to sing. Picture the surf vibes of American rock-duo, Best Coast (minus the syrupy vocals of Beth Consentino) and you might just be able to imagine it. A gripping instrumental soon follows in the form of the grungy, ‘New Song’ – its urgent vocal makes it the dark horse of the set.
The gig concludes with fan favourite, ‘Trouble’. It sheds light on Hankin’s chagrin at becoming somebody you dislike whilst being in a relationship and depicts the bittersweet aspect of loving someone, but knowing that without change, there’s trouble on the horizon. The wistful lyrics contrast the sweet melodies, and its true-to-life message couldn’t be more relevant to the group’s adolescent fan base.
As the band confidently depart the stage after what has been a relaxingly tame, but surprisingly sweaty gig, ‘Girl Spray’ is squirted in the audience one last time. Rather surprisingly, it’s actually quite a nice scent.
WORDS BY ALICIA CARPENTER
ALL PHOTOS BY DON BLANDFORD