I get a lot of CD/Rs handed to me by bands when I’m out around town, and usually it only takes a few seconds to place the kind of thing they’re doing. Sometimes though, a young band shows up doing something completely off the wall, as if even they themselves haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work, but it’s nearly always interesting, giving the listener the sense of the band groping their way towards their own sound in real time rather than emerging fully-formed and familiar. Jesus Weekend, who I reviewed last week, are a bit like that, and so are Atlanta Girl.
This EP starts out sounding like fairly straightforward indiepop, albeit at the fuzzier, more lo-fi end, but then the vocals come in like a drunkard awakening from slumber, perhaps on a park bench or railway platform somewhere, fending off the attentions of strangers with a mixture of self pity and half-hearted flapping limbs. In the background all sorts of weird noises start coming through.Atlanta Girl are only getting started though, and second track South Carolina comes in from another angle entirely, all drum machine, discordant synths, and sudden squalls of noise. It’s fascinating and, like the odder moments of Mummer-era XTC, at its core still fundamentally pop.
Peeling back the layers, you get the impression that Atlanta Girl are basically an indiepop band in that Beach Boys/C86/Flipper’s Guitar tradition, and the melodies could probably be polished up into some quite delightful, shimmering guitar pop, but then again, why waste something so wonderfully, thrillingly strange by filing off all its weird, knobbly edges like that? If anything, it would be more interesting to see them exploring the Zappa-esque fringes of avant-pop in the other direction.