Girls Like Us (GLU) released Bitter ‘Til The Bitter End the same weekend I caught the band live at the Chelsea Inn, Bristol.
It was a blistering set, part of another top night there (In With the Inn Crowd), during which I was about to turn to a mate and say, ‘killer bass line’ only for him to beat me to it with the exact same words.
The debut album certainly lives up to its name with lyrics plenty raw enough to suggest lived experience fuelling its theme of two-timing, dickhead boyfriends/blokes more often than not from entitled backgrounds.
‘Song of the Wytches’ is a swirling cloud of loose aggressive punk that at times borders on the gothic. Fierce vocals swirl through the mix to tell an abstract tale in a compelling almost-football-chant style rooted in Shakespearian recipe that—as it seemed to me, at least—laments repeating already made mistakes, especially those previously witnessed in others.
Grunge anthem ‘Toothache’ is reminiscent of Hole, perhaps even Nirvana more so, being catchy in the extreme with a hint of bubblegum pop; a story of love, betrayal, regret and revenge of the type leading to posters of bands on bedroom walls. Backing vocals make their first full appearance here, and—oof!—the combination is sublime!
‘My Boyfriend Was A Tory (So I Broke Up With Him)’ punches hard from the get go and doesn’t let up from there; the tale it tells right up in the face of the Right with its slashing of tires, burning of clothes, killing of friends and suggestions for what to do with ex PM Theresa May; a roller coaster of rock ‘n’ roll ecstasy through a horror house of gritty punk fuck you.
‘High Pressure’ drops back into the grunge; a somewhat tortured sound matches a story of being pressured to conform and the ongoing unwanted consequences of doing so. The loose element—which might best be described as attitude—is prevalent on this track; at points slowing to an almost doomy pace, without ever losing the grunge swagger.
(Girls Like Use live in hometown London the night before the Chelsea Inn gig (Bristol); by @danielfsayphotography)
‘School’ also packs swagger, though here it leaps and bounds into the headbanging realm of NWOBHM ‘Back to You’-era Rock Goddess, with lyrics to match in the form of the takedown not just of an ex, but his whole stinking band too. There’s even some touches of the ever-present drive found in Motörhead and Lemmy-era Hawkwind.
It’s literally impossible to pick a favourite track, ‘School’ only just edging it due to its vibe reminding of 80s/90s London; what I heard in places like the Marquee, Ruskin Arms, the wet East London pavements on the way from East Ham tube station to get there (hits play on track for umpteenth time; drifts further into headbanging reminiscing reverie . . . )
‘Hair (haven’t we been here before)’ is a story of superficiality, immaturity and multiple infidelities told to a backdrop that fully captures the cold disjointed expanse the prickly shock of discovered disloyalty sets in sickly motion.
And then there’s the blood: make up your own mind about how it got there; there’s a couple of options, none savoury – it might even belong to more than one person.
Anti-rich mantra ‘Spoonfed’ is in the ballpark of Amyl and the Sniffers while leaning a slightly dry-iced gothic direction without the message ever losing its edge in the distortion. Emerging bruise-like, it’s a fitting end for an album that is certainly bitter, while equally easily being perfect to stick on at a party not only in expectation of keeping everyone happy, but downing shots and pumping fists in the air because of (anyone not should be asked to leave).
The vitriol is key to Bitter ‘Til The Bitter End: personal to someone, so relatable to many. A key is nothing, though, without a lock to fit in and open: the pounding drums, searing guitar and driving bass provide the perfect mechanism; for when turned seriously memorable songs are unleashed.
Hopefully Girls Like Us will return to the Chelsea (Bristol) soon. If you’re in London, catch them here next week (at time of writing):
Girls Like Us:
- Amelia – vox & bass
- Jaz – guitar
- Yusuf – drums
Bitter ‘Til The Bitter End:
- released April 28, 2023
- tracks 1 to 6 recorded live at Overdrive Studios by John Youens
- mixed & mastered by John Youens
- additional mixing & recording by Girls Like Us
- artwork by Jade
- design by Nightowlportraits
- all songs written by Amelia
- copyright Girls Like Us
- Bitter ‘Til The Bitter End album bandcamp page
- Girls Like Us facebook page (where more upcoming live dates can be found)
Thanks for reading 🙂
N. P. Ryan
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