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Girl Ray
Girl Diva Harris , November 29th, 2019 09:25

In the new Girl Ray album, Diva Harris finds so much joy

The course of true love never did run smooth declares Lysander 135 lines into A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and so too sings Poppy Hankin 1 minute 16 seconds into Girl. North London girl gang Girl Ray’s surprisingly pop-minded second album has more in common with the bard’s saucy woodland comedy than at first you might suspect: quips, troublesome romances, and pleasing rhymes abound against the backdrop of a hazy LA summer.

Where Girl Ray’s 2017 debut Earl Grey provided sweetly-voiced lo-fi ditties, with little more than passing reference to the band’s soft spot for ‘00s-to-present day pop and R’n’B (the only clue, perhaps, being the parodying of the genres in the video for ‘Don’t Go Back at Ten’) Girl packs a powerful pop punch – the influences of the likes of Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Destiny’s Child, all cited by the band as sources of inspiration, clearly heard in Girl’s beats, filters and sleek production. Opening two songs ‘Girl’ and ‘Show Me More’ are a plunge into the glassy pool of this newly polished sound - the former sun-warmed and woozy; the latter vast and anthemic — and the both so catchy they could have been lab-engineered. And the hooks don’t stop there: see also the baby pleases of ‘Just Down the Hall’, squelchy synth lines of ‘Because’ and simple-but-sticky chorus of ‘Friend Like That’.

Girl’s most important commonality with 2000s/2010s chart pop/R’n’B comes in its celebration of unfuckable-with female friendship. On ‘Keep It Tight’ - a constant earworm; a song that I can’t help but play twice every time I listen to the album, and perhaps a direct tribute to Destiny’s Child’s 2012 single also titled ‘Girl’ - the voices of childhood friends Poppy, Iris and Sophie come together and sing: Girl I’m so in awe of you / I’ve known you half my life / Come round and we can talk it through / We’ll always keep it tight; a mirroring of the sentiment of Beyoncé’s line in the Destiny’s Child song, I been knowin' you since you was ten / you cannot hide from your friends. Ride-or-die friendships with other women are the most violently joyful relationships I have experienced in my life. To have this celebrated in music - girl friendship as comradeship; all-hours availability for advice; binning men who try to fuck with the clique - is utterly joyful.

So — here’s to in-jokes; to lyrics like "he dipped me like a causal fondue"; to soulmate-level friendship; to reclining, sunglassed, in shiny open-topped sports cars, and smoking in stilettos. To the escapist thrill of singing along to something so catchy you just can’t not. To Girl Ray, and to Girl, which is so much love, so much joy, and so much fun.