Open Up Your Head, the debut release from London-formed indie four-piece Sea Girls, is full of easily digestible synth lines, catchy melodies and darkly honest lyrics which occasionally focuses on front man Henry Camamile’s brain injury trauma – yes, the album title is more literal than you may have first thought – but mostly is an ode to youthful nostalgia, for better or worse. If you like your indie music with a bounce in its step, and a side hustle of emotion, Sea Girls may be for you.
Transplant begins the album full of brightness, from a sensitive – almost symphonic – sounding introduction, which explodes into grandiose, layered guitar, to Henry Camamile’s deep tenor, this is an emotive anthem that sets the tone for the rest of the record well. The lyrics are personal, yet easily relatable, the structure of the track simple, yet still buoyant on the ears. Its only fault is that it goes on a little too long.
On You Over Anyone, however, more length would have been welcome. With beautifully echoed vocals and pessimistic piano (which sounds something like a macabre Elton John) its endlessly playable. Camamile’s vocals sound particularly morose during the bridge, where his voice hitches tenderly as he half sighs “But I’d choose you over anyone”, this is a track where Sea Girls seem to drop the curtain on their carefully curated “sad-post teen” vibe, and actually feel.
Weight In Gold is similarly sorrowful, but fails to have the same catharsis whilst Do You Really Wanna Know, the opposite to these two tracks musically, shows a different side to the melancholy stasis of todays youth: laughing away your pain. A playful laugh begins the track, and sonically the sound mimics laughter too; with a lightning quick chorus reminiscent of Mumford And Sons mixed with The 1975, occasional hints of ’90s era pop within bouncy keys, and fast-paced guitar, the sound is completely at odds with the lyrics; it’s an easy to like anthem and a track clearly designed to be played energetically live, something Sea Girls are known for.
Lie To Me explores a similar theme with lines like “I’m a baby when it comes to my thoughts/ So you can just lie, lie, lie to me” and a brit-pop stylised chorus easy to sing along to, whilst Damage Done is more lyrically heartfelt, but no less sonically jovial. Camamile’s accent is charming, whilst reliably solid synth blends effortlessly with emotionally charged – but predictable – guitar. Forever, one of the recently released singles from Open Up Your Head, was almost the name choice for the album and it’s definitely one of the best on the record. With ebullient bass and expansive guitar all contributing to a trademark indie-pop mammoth chorus, it’s impossible not to dance to, and seems to have a different weight of feeling to it than much of the rest of the album.
For the most part, then, it is clear that Open Up Your Head is a perfect slice of indie-pop, but occasionally it’s almost a little too much of a perfect fit for the genre. If it weren’t for Sea Girls’ buckets of charm, they may have run the risk of being forgettable with this album. But as it stands, although they definitely didn’t reinvent the wheel, their wheels are pretty polished. Their name may have been born after a misheard Nick Cave lyric, but ironically it is their raw, often descriptive lyrics that make Open Up Your Head worth listening to. This band clearly has a solid vision for their sound, and with a debut this satisfying, you’ll definitely want to see where that vision takes them next – especially if that involves more experimentation.