Words by Ed King
The first time I saw GIRLI I thought she was a joke – a clever pastiche of ‘yoof culture darn sarf’ by a fresh faced character actor in their twenties. Then I saw Milly Toomey stand up in parliament and deliver a cohesive rib dig at the spectre of nepotism and the responsibility of each school to support each student. So… not a joke then.
Today GIRLI (as Ms Toomey is currently standing up to be counted by) releases her Feel OK EP – a three track studio based record, featuring some respectable names from the UK grime scene: Lethal Bizzle, King Henry, Diztortion. Google.
Opening with ‘Not That Girl’, the EP’s lead single that came out in earlier in the year, the most immediate impression is pace. Far from the ‘raucous whirlwind of teenage chaos’ of GIRLI’s live shows, or the electronic cacophony and high pitched vocals of her previous singles, the beat confidently saunters behind an almost patios pentameter. It’s good stuff, clear and confident. And regardless of what you may/may not have thought of GIRLI before, lyrically astute.
The EPs second track, ‘Feel OK’, steps back to a more direct melody based pop rap hybrid. Fair enough, we’ve all got to sell units. But by the time MC Bizzle is telling me about “chilling on a sofa” I’ve started to switch off. If you can get past the 1min 47sec mark then make your own mind up… and I’m sure that you will.
‘Find My Friends’, the final part of this teen triptych and a three and a half minute monologue on a somewhat darker edge, is the glacier cherry on this overtly pink trifle.
Literally and figuratively walking us through the disappointment of an over hyped house party, dodging dodgy dealers and garrulous egos, GIRLI carries her acerbic torch room to room and out onto the street again. It’s intelligent, witty and recognisable to anyone over the age of fourteen. And whilst this caustic commentary won’t make you popular, when you’re challenging both your peers and the establishment (dressed head to toe in pink or leopard print) integrity can be a useful place to fall back on.
But the joke, it seems, continues to stalk Ms Toomey; GIRLI is out on tour with Declan McKenna later this year, with nothing but age tying them to a bill poster (O2 Institute 24th May).
But I’m older, a professional cynic and not GIRLI’s target demographic on PMR Records’ marketing plan (at least, I fucking hope I’m not) so it doesn’t matter what raises a wry smile from me.
The important thing here is that pop, with all its garish forms of hell sent harpies, may have found a decent female role model – complete with enough strength, sparkles and swear words to galvanise the right people at the right places.
And whilst John Bercow is probably safe from fielding another well phrased tongue lashing, something tells me GIRLI has more significant comments to proffer. By pop record or youth parliament, they’ll no doubt reach us one way or another.
‘Not the Girl’ – GIRLI
Feel OK EP by GIRLI is out on general release from 21st April through PMR Records. For more on GIRLI, visit www.girlimusic.com