‘An individual painting himself in lyrics as a character in internal conflict; consumed by his own vanity and either maladjusted or hopelessly hedonistic.’ Like this description suggests, the lyrics on Girl Friend’s second EP ‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’ make frontman Amory come across as a bit like a doomed Evelyn Waugh character, steadfastly living life in as dissolute a manner as possible. Opener ‘Monte Carlo’ might sound romantic (“you mean more to me than you know/baby don’t go/stay and forget about home”), and Amory’s poetic croon certainly sounds convincingly heartfelt, but the track’s setting on the glamorous French Riviera suggests his romance could be more fleeting obsession than lifelong love; a plea to stop the night from ending more than anything else. ‘You Lead The Way’ follows a similar pattern. This time Amory wants someone to lead him astray, pleading “it’s half past midnight and I won’t go home alone, not without you no.”

We’ve all occasionally had those kind of nights, and the desperate want for a way to stop time that comes with them, but ‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’ exists in a place where they never stop happening. Even when the lyrics deal with mundaneness, panache synths and sultry harmonies lift the tracks into a world of decadence and melodrama. Even apathy and defeatism are dressed up in cinematic glamour on ‘Stop’ (opening line: “waking up at noon, time on my hands and sex on my brain”), which musically sounds like it could be the theme song to a risqué spy film. Elsewhere, ‘Style And Substance’ might one day soundtrack someone else’s big night out; it flirts between recalling Two Door Cinema Club’s electronic-embellished indie and being a straight up Calvin Harris style dance tune. Even with typically histrionic lines like “life well it never seemed much to lose/lately I have realised I’d hate the solitude” and “I just can’t trust myself anymore”. it wouldn’t sound out of place at a proper club.

‘Weekend Soulmate’, Girl Friend’s second “sleek, danceable” EP

Whilst the lyrics on ‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’ are important, equally so is the way they’re delivered. As mentioned, Amory’s got a real knack for evoking sincerity in his vocals but he’s just as skilled at doing the opposite. Whispered lines like “you’ll never be alone” on ‘Monte Carlo’ and the echoed repetition of “lie” and “want to” on ‘You Lead The Way’ sound brilliantly theatrical, whilst backing vocals and harmonies from his sister Eleanor add a conversational tone; like the two really are acting out a scene on stage together.

At the heart of it, ‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’ is pop music done well; there’s plenty of hooks and an unfaltering rhythmic backbone stops the synths from sounding too bombastic. What’s most interesting about Girl Friend, though, is that – like two of their influences, David Bowie and Roxy Music – they seem intent on presenting themselves and their music as a coherent package. The fatally flawed Waughian character Amory has created for himself, along with the sequins and eyeliner on display in the bands press photographs and the neon sign on the EP cover (reminiscent of the fifties picture house signs that inspired the name Roxy Music), resonate with the cinematic nature of the tracks, leaving a lasting impression of glamour and drama. On ‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’, Girl Friend have – to use one of their own song titles – introduced themselves as a band with Style AND Substance.

‘Arrive Alone, Leave Alone’ is released via Tri-Tone on 27 April. Stream ‘Style And Substance’ below:

You can catch Girl Friend live on the following dates:

11 April: Ruby Lounge, Manchester.

12 April: Brudenell Social Club, Leeds.

13 April: Fibbers, York.

15 April: King Tuts, Glasgow.

16 April: Think Tank, Newcastle.

17 April: Picture House Social, Sheffield.

18 April: The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool.

20 April: Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham.

21 April: Crofters Rights, Bristol.

23 April: The Cookie, Leicester.

24 April: Also Known As, Banbury.

25 April: Lennons, Southampton.

26 April: Prince Albert, Brighton.

About The Author

Gemma Barnes