Album Review

Girl and Girl - Call a Doctor

Nothing if not immersive.

Girl and Girl - Call a Doctor

“Our story begins in the East wing of the Wesley hospital / It’s our young hero’s local emergency centre / And it’s here where the boy finds himself / In a coma on the couch of room 6B”. So begins ‘INTRO’, the aptly titled opener of Girl and Girl’s debut full-length. Lyrically, taking the listener so very by the hand is a bold choice for the opening gambit – there’s a strong chance of drifting into am-dram, ‘once upon a time’ territory – but here, Kai James’ overt framing of the album acts as a sort of meta literary device, immediately establishing its character and concept (namely, himself and his own mental ill-health) with the narrative nous of fellow Aussie Courtney Barnett. Indeed, over the course of the next ten tracks, it’s as if you’ve been transposed directly into James’ frontal cortex: on title track ‘Call A Doctor’, the cantering beat-keeping of Aunty Liss (the frontperson’s IRL relation) recalls the palpitations of a racing heart; on the swelling epic ‘Maple Jean and the Anthropocene’, his vibrato vocal conveys a sense of quivering fragility; and on ‘Hello’, the lyrical sampling of The Sound Of Music’s ‘So Long, Farewell’ lands as an almost desperate stab at gallows humour. Instrumentally, Girl and Girl recall the stalwarts of 2010s garage rock (think Parquet Courts, Car Seat Headrest et al.), their affinity with jangly guitars and buoyant rhythms undercut by feverishly intense playing and a cloying sense of claustrophobia within the tracks’ dense arrangements (‘Oh Boy!’; ‘Mother’). This textural closeness does mean that by the time we reach some pace-changing slower cuts (such as the Joanna Sternberg-recalling ‘Comfortable Friends’), you can’t help but feel slightly tight-chested, but then again, ‘Call The Doctor’ is nothing if not immersive; with the cycle-completing conclusion of ‘OUTRO’, it’s ambiguous as to whether we ever left the Wesley hospital’s East wing at all.

Tags: Girl and Girl, Reviews, Album Reviews

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