When an act cites the writings of Sylvia Path as a key inspiration it implies a number of factors. One may perceive it as a sign of intelligence and consciousness, others may see it as a sign of pretentiousness, a superficial attempt to be seen as academic. Luckily, the Devon indie punk group Muncie Girls established their intellect and perception in 2016 with their fantastic debt record From Caplan To Belsize. Radiating charm, charisma and personality, the record documented a range of social issues through snaring hooks, pop orientated sensibilities and personal, yet universally relatable lyrics. Whilst the group could have effectively coasted on the critically successful sound found within such a release, like many acts do when they strike gold on their first release, the Exmouth trio have continued to push boundaries on their second record, entitled Fixed Ideals, to fantastic effect.
With the aid of long term collaborator and producer Lewis Johns (Rolo Tomassi, Funeral For A Friend, Gnarwolves) Muncie Girls have crafted a collection of songs that build on the lyrical themes introduced and probed in their first effort. However, on Fixed Ideals there’s an air of urgency and directiveness, an atmosphere of not just wanting to share and explore their ideologies and tales but crucially needing to. Throughout the thirteen songs present on this release Frontwoman Lande Hekt retells her battles with mental health, anxiety, far right politics, the ever-unpleasant feeling of wasting potential and drinking too much.
Despite this being most personal collection of tracks penned by Hekt, with a focus on bringing catharsis through these dark narratives, there’s also glimmers of solace tied in, with tracks noting the importance of friends and family. Despite all of these tracks being inspired by the experiences faced by Hekt, the relatability of these tracks is universal. We can match our own personal struggles and ideologies to the ones of narrated here, resulting in a collective therapeutic encounter. It's a skill that's reminiscent of the lyricism of Nervus, where deeply personal tales are presented to be relatable to those who share a common outlook on life.
Where Fixed Ideals truly excels, especially when compared to their first full length, is the acknowledgement of needing to expand their already haplessly captivating sound through musical inclusiveness. Whilst still remaining an indie punk record through and through, the group stray into more pop focused melodic with this record, with the hooks and melodies present more engaging than ever. The jovial xylophone laced ‘Isn’t Life Funny’ and pop punk sensibilities of lead single ‘Picture Of Health’ encapsulates the ethos of this act, one of lethally infectious melodies built upon tales of struggle. This is punk inspired music at it’s most soothing, digestible and enthralling; it’s simply impossible to not be charmed and not to sink into the melodies presented by this record.
In order to amplify such sensibilities, there’s a far more intricate texture to this record than in comparison to From Caplan To Belsize. A fully initial move of progression, this record marks the first time the group have chosen to include two guitars within their sound, adding an entirely new instrument (both physically and metaphorically) to weave harmonious textures within their sound. Such a progression is clearly evident on the up-tempo alt-rock sensibilities of ‘Fig Tree’ and ‘In Between Bands’, a track which stands as an ode to the fire ravaged venue The Cavern. Whilst the effort required to introduce new layers have been detailed as a source of stress for the act, their endeavors have clearly payed off in massive ways. Fixed Ideals is simply jammed to the brim with massive, memorable moments that are destined to propel this currently undersung band to new heights.
Not only is this record a step up for Muncie Girls, it’s a step above a level that some thought couldn’t be topped by their first record. If you haven’t had your heart stolen by this delightful band yet, Fixed Ideals is the record that’s inevitably abound to do it.
Fixed Ideals is released Friday the 31st via Specialist Subject Records