Exeter trio Muncie Girls have become an integral part of the UK’s DIY punk scene over the past few years. Even if the sound that they produce sometimes sways more towards indie than punk, the attitude that drives it most definitely fits the bill. Two years after their widely-celebrated debut LP ‘From Caplan To Belsize’, they’re back with another offering – ‘Fixed Ideals’.
Before you even hit the album’s first chorus, you hear a line as blunt as it is resounding when vocalist Lande declares, “I’m so angry, I’m gonna get a tattoo that says fuck Jeremy Clarkson and fuck you too”. Her lyricism never shies away from saying it as it is, so those unfamiliar with the band’s work get an immediate idea of her refreshing songwriting style.
Whereas the opener is quite a mellow tempo, with the lyrics feeling more like a diary entry than a specifically written song, ‘Picture Of Health’ injects some energy into the record. It also puts to the forefront the theme of mental health and looking after oneself, on a release where society is continuously questioned in its commentary.
‘High’ maintains much of the previous song’s tempo, with the guitar lines making it something of a pop-punk singalong. Then, on ‘Clinic’, you dive straight into perhaps the most important lyrics of the album. It discusses speaking to the doctors when your head isn’t feeling right, only to be told that there’s a “three-week wait” and be handed medication just to get you by. In a time when mental health needs far more attention than it is getting, this kind of writing can be as helpful for someone to empathise with as it can be a statement.
After the first few tracks, the album flexes its muscles in terms of where it goes stylistically. The verses in ‘Falling Down’ bring it right down to clean guitars, hi-hat and vocals, before toe-tapping choruses ensue with the drums leading the charge. The jangle and reverb on ‘Isn’t Life Funny’ has an 80’s vibe to it. Then, rather charmingly, ‘Bubble Bath’ has what is surely the only release of the year to heavily feature the sound of popping bubbles. With a title like that, it would be rude not to.
The pendulum swings back towards fuzzy guitars and bigger drums for the next few tracks, including sub-two minute cracker ‘Locked Up’. Much like the album’s opener, the lyrics feel like venting, bouncing from “Valentine’s Day and push-up bras” to “TV adverts promoting war” in the space of a few lines. It’s punchy, packed full of attitude and one of the album’s highlights.
The LP comes to a close with a classic acoustic number before ‘Family Of Four’ is the hairs-on-end finale that it deserves. It’s defiant, readdressing issues mentioned in the previous 40 minutes of playback, and leaves you sat there, headphones in, feeling as though you’ve got something off your chest.
What Muncie Girls have done is create an album that puts struggles out there for all to see and relate to, alongside some fun, energetic guitar music; catharsis through the medium of music. The production is simple and, lyrically, it isn’t in your face – it’s just frank. As a result of this frankness and simplicity, the album may not attract as much fuss as other releases in similar musical circles. What it will do however is find a place in the heart of anyone who listens to it with open ears and mind… and then make them want to go out and buy a bubble machine.
‘Fixed Ideals’ by Muncie Girls is out now via Specialist Subject Records.