Music trends work in cycles, and in the rock world we’re currently experiencing a revival of lightly-produced, grungy guitar bands with stellar song-writing at their core. The Big Moon will be recognised by many as one of the finest examples of this revival, but lead guitarist Soph Nathan may be the queen among queens due to her second project: Our Girl.
Stranger Today, Our Girl’s debut album from last year, proves that Soph Nathan deserves renown as not only a guitarist but as a song-writer in her own right. Our Girl’s tunes capture that feeling of hanging out with friends whilst blasting out Sonic Youth, Pixies and Pavement records: a simpler time. The record is quite exposed, with the tunes making a case for themselves without the help of heavy production or processing. It’s the kind of record Steve Albini would record to tape, and it serves as an Amal Clooney-level deposition for their live shows.
Front and centre is Nathan’s guitar playing: ever-present but never imposing, always working to enhance the subject matter of her songs. The mantra-like ‘Heat’ has a simple but effective picked-guitar line that seductively locks you into its woozy ebbs and flows. On the other hand, you have ‘Two Life’, a song about feeling that a relationship has undergone a seismic shift. The instrumentation moves between quieter moments and bigger, grander chords and hooks, culminating in a huge instrumental breakdown; you feel the confusion, the getting to grips with what has changed.
Alongside her expert guitar playing, Soph Nathan has one of those voices you could listen to all day. Her pitch-perfect rasp leaps from moments of quiet reassurance to impassioned outpourings in which her guttural voice really shines. This is exhibited nicely on ‘Being Around’, a celebration of strong friendships, as well as ‘Sub Rosa’, a lament on how it takes two to destroy a relationship. The songs are essentially opposites in terms of subject matter but Nathan utilises her voice perfectly to communicate the sentiment behind both.
That’s to make no mention of the excellent backing vocals from the band’s rhythm section: Lauren Wilson and Josh Tyler. Alongside providing the ideal sheen to Nathan’s brilliantly-crafted songs, their vocal contributions are viscerally impactful, particularly when the band performs live. See ‘Level’ and the outro to ‘I Wish It Was Sunday’ for Wilson and Tyler at their best.
And therein lies the crux of the matter: Our Girl are truly a band that beg to be experienced live. There’s no better venue to do so than Sacred Trinity Church, one of the North West’s gems. Be there for Our Girl on the 7 March.