North London three piece Girl Ray are still at the early stage of their career where they proudly list their musical influences on their various online presences. It’s an increasingly rare occurrence in a world where most bands seem set on showing their independence and (supposed) uniqueness from the start. It’s also an endearing and innocent quality, with names like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Pavement, Pixies and Hefner being proudly furnished forth. Tonight’s show at the Scala saw the band offer further evidence of these attributes, building on the remarkably successful year they’ve had. Band leader Poppy Hankin frequently comments on how surreal tonight feels as a capacity crowd meet their songs with what is clearly (for them) a near disconcerting level of enthusiasm.
First up however are Glasgow based Spinning Coin. They may be well-schooled, possibly overly-so, in ‘90s alternative rock but tonight do a competent job in joining the dots between the likes of Sebadoh, Sonic Youth and Neutral Milk Hotel. Their ragged, lurching songs sound sufficiently fresh and energetic to suggest it may not be too long before they’re headlining venues of this size.
Girl Ray have risen through London venues at a pace that they may have found surprising but it’s not hard to see why people like them so much. Their debut album Earl Grey is crammed full of well-crafted pop moments and they’ve developed an identifiable sound amongst a crowed landscape. They backload their set tonight, starting off at a more considered pace and building momentum carefully.
Monday Tuesday is one of their higher profile tracks to feature early on, tonight benefitting from violin and showcasing the elevated harmonies and vocal inflections which has resulted in Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci frontman Euros Childs declaring himself a fan of the band.
The shaded melodies of Just Like That follow while Stupid Things is a soaring song about finding happiness. Don’t Go Back At Ten offers more evidence of their early mastery of melody as well as how they do things sufficiently differently to stand out. Trouble features pleasingly choppy guitars and shows that they may not be too far away from emulating the tougher sound of Throwing Muses in future. They may make the occasional error but they ride these out well, retaining a calm steadiness.
It is the last two songs that really show their potential however. A Few Months features a neat guitar turnaround which builds into a deceptively sun-kissed groove. For their encore they invite various friends on stage for Earl Grey which provides clearer hints at where they may go next. It unfurls in pleasingly episodic style, psychedelic but understated, as svelte vocal ribbons intertwine amongst the guitars, brass and percussion. They generate so much goodwill inside the Scala tonight it’s hard to leave without seeing them as one of 2017’s success stories.