Exeter racket-makers Muncie Girls might sound bouncier than The Magic Roundabout’s Zebedee on a hydraulic bouncy castle, but beneath the dynamic fervor, there’s a shadowy undertone. “For the next few years you can laugh and joke about your next victim,” sings the band’s vocalist-stroke-bassist Lande Hekt on ‘Respect’, while an unpleasant radio report of sexual assault plays, barely audible, underneath the thrashing guitars.
‘From Caplan to Belsize’ is built on that sort of two-way tension, even down to the Sylvia Plath-referencing album title. Caplan and Belsize are both mental institutions with high and low security respectively, and a nod to Plath’s deeply affecting novel, The Bell Jar. Imagining real-time tragedies of death and mourning neighbours, with unsettlingly merry delivery ‘Gas Mark 4’ also serves as a dark nod to Plath’s own tragic suicide. Finding themselves trapped between a hard place, and another hard place, Muncie Girls’ debut speaks lyrically about a journey of education, organising, and ultimately, finding freedom through arriving at Belsize.
While Muncie Girls might tread relatively familiar musical territory on ‘From Caplan to Belsize’, it’s Hekt’s acerbic, no-frills lyricism that shines brightest.