By: Claudia Siregar |
Hailing all the way from Yogyakarta, Indonesian alt-rock three-piece Grrrl Gang made their most recent comeback with their mini album “Not Sad, Not Fulfilled”. The mini album consists of five tracks fresh out of the oven (save for “Pop Princess” and “Dream Grrrl” – these two tracks were released as a single earlier this year), topped with a somewhat colourful retro aesthetic to suit the theme of the highly anticipated mini album. A combination of short song durations, the two vocalists’ sultry, deep vocals, and a variety of influences from olden days rock music make for an intriguing, unique release from the band.
Surfer rock, rockabilly, and dream pop influences decorate the songs in “Not Sad, Not Fulfilled”, still sticking with the band’s signature sound (check out “Bathroom” and “Thrills” for some serious dream pop vibes). Fun, rolling guitar licks are still a prominent part of each song – though not every song in the mini album is meant to be “fun”, as Grrrl Gang gifts us with both songs with an upbeat tempo (“Love Song”, “Pop Princess”, and “Guys Don’t Read Sylvia Plath”) and one particularly slow-paced song (“Night Terrors”, sung mainly by vocalist-bassist Akbar Rumandung). In this mini album, Grrrl Gang shows us pretty much a new musical dimension of themselves, while still sticking to what made them Grrrl Gang in the first place.
Lyric-wise, the songs are dominated by issues such as defining one’s identity as a young woman, breaking stereotypes, and unbearable pre-adolescent sadness, all packed into what seems to be a full-on narration of a girl’s story by the band. The mini album starts with “Love Song”, in which a girl is thankful for her lover, continued with “Pop Princess”, which tells the story of a girl who needs to learn how to stand up for herself. Next, we have “Night Terrors”, in which the vocalists sing about their struggles with “feeling alright”. In “Guys Don’t Read Sylvia Plath”, vocalist-guitarist Angeeta Sentana sings about not conforming to societal expectations as a woman (“I wasn’t born to be a mother / I was born to raise hell everywhere I go / I wasn’t born to be a wife / I was born to live a life of my own”), before ending the mini album with “Dream Grrrl”. It’s worth noting that “Dream Grrrl” and “Pop Princess” talk about two different, somewhat stereotypical female characters. “Dream Grrrl” talks about a girl who “can kick your ass”, while “Pop Princess” talks about a girl who can’t stand up to her man who’s apparently a “jerk and a maniac” – a major character development after two songs about what seems to be an existential crisis and a lot of self and society-questioning – coincidence? Seems a bit far-fetched, but it seems like Grrrl Gang is narrating a story of a girl growing up throughout the album.
To sum it all up: if “Not Sad, Not Fulfilled” were a person, she’d be in her late teens or early 20s, young and in love (“Love Song”), once the passive, people-pleasing “Pop Princess”, before going through an existential crisis and questioning who she is and what she wants out of life (“Night Terrors” & “Guys Don’t Read Sylvia Plath”) and finally deciding that her liberty matters more than what the society wants from a woman, and that she wants to become kick-ass instead of passive and people-pleasing yet unhappy (“Dream Grrrl”). Grrrl Gang seems to want to encourage their female listeners to grow up and be able to stand up for themselves through an out-of-the-box “story” concept; to kick ass and be that “Dream Grrrl” they’ve always wanted to be.
Overall, this mini album could be Grrrl Gang’s big break, highlighted by the feminist undertones and dream pop influences that make Grrrl Gang Grrrl Gang. Don’t know what to expect other than an out-of-the-box concept and more dream pop influences yet, but we hope to see more of Grrrl Gang soon.
Favourite track: Pop Princess