Long nights, winter sunrises, vomit on your trousers and days of doing nothing. We’ve all been there (if not, that’s ok) and well, you’ve got the nights to remember (your first kiss, losing your virginity or just having the greatest time) and the nights to forget (all of the previous and more!). These times are all part of life and an important rite most young people go through. They’re what you call ‘the tumultuous trials of teen-hood’.
It’s about living, learning and making the most of the night (and day) before you venture into adulthood. Music is a great time capsule, everyone has that band, song or album that sends them back to their late teens and it’s a magical feeling. Nostalgia is powerful but it’s also something that is unsustainable.
You get the rush, the memories and then the sizzling sensation wears off. What if there was an artist that captures the essence of being a teenager, a really rebellious one in fact? Who delivers quality, well-executed tunes that doesn’t feel tacky or dated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?
Look no further, as an artist like that does exist… Welcome to: GIRLI. Her music and aesthetic threw me back to being that late-teen. After following her rise since late 2015, I thought now would be a good time to write about this hidden, pink frosted ice gem.
So, let’s get the show on the road, cue the 8-bit music!
Girli is the future of pop music. There, I’ve said it. She’s got the spark, bite and knuckle-duster blows. If I could simplify her sound I’d say ‘Sucker’ era Charli XCX in the sense that Girli’s music shares the same aggressive, in-your-face nature.
Instrumentally, her music is loud and at times harsh, conveying a similar ‘anti-pop’ sentiment Charli pushed with “Sucker”. Put that comparison in a blender with the next: the essence of The Spice Girls & Cyndi Lauper. Why? Well, Girli is all about feminism. She also possesses a strong assertiveness and has throwbacks to the 90s sound-wise.
Press the button on the blender after adding a few secret ingredients and you’ve got a fierce sound. Her music carries a youthful ‘I don’t give a f**k’ attitude along with the carefree swagger that comes with it. Girli offers razor sharp honesty and wittiness, which shines through in her songs. Combine her attitude with an amalgamation of sonic throwbacks and futuristic yet dirty, low-fi beats; she rounds off as an undeniably exciting artist
The first time I heard “You Think You Can F**k With Me Do Ya”, my blood rushed to my head and I was a bit confused. I listened again and it immediately clicked – this s**t is different. Her vocals immediately stood out alongside her smart, ‘sarcy’ lyricism. Her shoots off, quick-witted and self-aware verses with ease. It’s her greatest strength. With lyrics like:
“Heyyyyy, you thought I was gonna do a ballad? F**k off, never ever, ever, ever, ever […] Hey boy, do you wanna be friends? I wanna chat shit and blaze in your ends / Bunk lessons, f**k the teachers / F**k the work, f**k the tests, f**k the bleachers’ You know you’re in for a wild ride“.
After hearing the song a few times, I realised that there was something special (other than it being ‘different) and I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. The sound, the lyricism in particular stirred up something inside of me and it was, well, weird. Then it dawned on me, Girli is capturing what it’s like to be teenager, somebody who is on the edge of the world with invincibility in tow.
This song and her catalogue in general, continually transports me back to my teen-era and it’s a welcomed feeling. What makes it so effective is her genuine nature. She’s portraying what she’s experiencing in real time (with some exaggeration for fun) and thats what makes it both striking and poignant. Girli’s music enables you to connect with your younger self, whilst also absorbing what it’s like to be younger now, in the more modern, pressured, hyper-sexualised day and age.
Whilst it may be portrayed in a bombastic, fun manner, there’s an undertone of seriousness that undercuts the portrayal. At times, it can feel very real and heavy. This is one girl’s journey into adulthood and it isn’t all fun and games. Girli manages to tackle more serious subject matters as she maintains her humourous, blunt inflections.
A heavy-hitting track and one which resonates with me (and teens across the globe) is “Feel OK”. There’s a hefty emotional weight that comes with the track, particularly conveyed through the vocal melodies. Although it’s emotionally charged, it’s damn-catchy and her best song to date. Not only does it show a softer, more vulnerable side to the artist herself but it demonstrates her artistry in full throttle.
“Feel OK” is a logical step and both a continuation and growth of her sound. The sickly-sweet warbling instrumental with soft, sultry vocals is a curveball compared to the normally, scatty, super-charged beats thats on offer. The chorus is both catchy and heartfelt. It’s a fine example of songwriting 101, even the ‘Bizzle feature lands.
The entire Feel OK EP shows how Girli can change gears with ease. If you listen to “Can’t Find My Friends”, she delivers a more heightened, paranoid experience. The instrumental is ominous with the bass kick looming over your head throughout the track. When the chorus arrives, it sounds urgent and slightly panicked, as you would when you’re drunk or anxious in a uncomfortable situation. These little details add together to create a realistic experience.
With her recent single “Hot Mess”, she demonstrates an angsty approach. Again, she delivers an emotionally charged listening experiencing. The lyricism and instrumental encapsulates the frustration of the pressures of conforming to the norm, and being the same as ‘everyone else’. Despite the meaning and cleverness behind the song, it moonlights as an anthem. Girli delivers a certified banger.
On “Hot Mess” she channels bucket-loads of bravado, accompanied by an instrumental that could be from the late 90s/early 2000s (in a good way). The switch-blade sarcastic lyricism is on display and it’s fabulous. The instrumentation adds to the head-bopping craziness; the grungy guitars being struck beneath the claps and thuds combined with the cheerleader-esque shouts come together well. When you combine that with the melodies, you’re onto a winner.
“Hot Mess” is Girli firing on all cylinders, pulling out all the stops to show off her style and schtick, especially with the low-toned “I guess I’m messy, I’m messy, I’m messy, I’m all messed up / I’m messy, I’m messy, I’m all messed up / I’m messy, I’m messy, I’m all messed up / I’m messy as a boy and I don’t give a f**k“, which introduces and ends the song. If that isn’t a statement of intent, then I don’t know what is.
All in all, I’m eager to hear what her debut full-length will sound like. If Girli manages to drop it early next year, I really think she’ll go places because the talent is in abundance. With the right guidance, she’ll undoubtedly smash it – on her terms, of course.
I think the signs so far are positive and she’s slowly amassing a strong and stable fan base (unlike the Tories, music for the Labourites and all that). Her music is relatable. It instantly strikes up a connection with the listener. Hell, if it can send a 24 yr old back in time without the music coming across as forced or dated, then you’re destined for greatness.
Girli is the sort of artist that doesn’t come around often and she deserves your attention. Her brand of pop in is both fluorescent and grimy, with punk/hip-hop influences and enough attitude to turn a sugary Top 40 single sour. This is raw, spunky pop with sprinkles, worn denim jeans and chipped nail varnish. If that sounds good to you, blast it loud because that’s how it should be.
Girli’s Hot Mess EP is out now and you can check out her previous releases at the usual places. Give her a chance ’cause she just might break your heart.
Words by Jake Gould