By Sophie Hutchison, Third Year, History of Art
There are a few things that Sea Girls enjoy; anthemic choruses, picking up girls in bars, and above all else, frustratingly addictive guitar riffs. Open Up Your Head features fourteen tracks that largely chronicle the tribulations of being a twenty-something, in the limbo between adolescence and adulthood.
The band manages to capture the combination of anxiety and anticipation that comes with growing up, evocative of drunken nights, falling in love, and spontaneous road tripping.
Few current bands rival Sea Girls when it comes to creating impeccably catchy indie-pop. But, while their lyrics flirt with the vague semantics of youth, their music lacks the depth and maturity they could (and should) be striving for.
Each song on the album carries similar sentiments: anxiety about getting older, unrequited love and lust, moving on from the past… Enjoying youth, before it slips away.
Whilst the open-endedness and non-specificity of some of lead vocalist Henry Camamile’s lyrics lend a degree of relatability to the listener, they often fall victim to tired tropes. ‘Even all the doctors and the preachers on earth / They couldn’t make me hate you, they don’t know what you’re worth,’ he croons on You Over Anyone.
Aside from the clichés, it feels that Sea Girls’ music is tinged with a palpably male gaze - and why shouldn’t it be? The band is, after all, comprised of four men whose strength lies in writing light-hearted singalongs with saccharine melodies. Yet, Camamile sings like he’s the first man to ever encounter that cool, casual girl who’ll drink beer with him.
More nuance and a greater focus on storytelling would benefit the album – it’s hard to buy into the band’s airy assertions when they don’t situate us fully in their world
In a market oversaturated with men singing about those mysterious creatures that are women, these songs are nothing remarkable – at least not lyrically.
Shake is marginally more insightful, dealing with the more serious subject of mental health – ‘I just can’t shake the feeling I’m all alone’ – and proving the band are capable of tackling other topics. Even here, the lyrics seem too broadly relatable.
More nuance and a greater focus on storytelling would benefit the album hugely – it’s hard to buy into the band’s airy assertions when they don’t do enough to situate us in their world. They could be in any bar, in any town, singing about any girl.
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That said, the album features glimpses of Sea Girls at the top of their game. Forever – a Killers-esque track – invokes feelings of teenage nonchalance, caution thrown to the wind and hair let down; past singles Violet and Closer share the same feeling of lust for life.
Sea Girls feel like the ‘next big thing’, comparable to The Kooks around 2006: destined for greatness within the coveted indie genre, creating songs that could still be sung back to them in a decade’s time. In the meantime, whilst this record showcases the best of their collective ability, the band has more work to do if it’s to create a legacy within 21st century indie.
Featured: Polydor / Sea Girls
Have you listened to Open Up Your Head yet? If so, what do you make of it?