ALBUM REVIEW: the long-anticipated full-length debut from sea girls, "open up your head"
It feels like we've been waiting an eternity for a debut from the London-based quartet, who formed nearly four years ago and have spent their time building their discography out via EP and single releases, developing an incredible relationship with their dedicated fanbase all the while. Open Up Your Head was, in my opinion, fully and completely worth the wait, full of the heartfelt, saccharine sweet, and simultaneously bounce-indie tunes that we're used to from Sea Girls.
This is the kind of music that makes me remember why I fell in love with it in the first place. When I first turned this album on and the opening notes of "Transplant" played, my eyes welled up with tears - and I had no clue why. I do have a collection of songs that make me cry without warning, but usually it's because of the subject matter, not because of its overwhelming and all-encompassing ability to transport you to a certain time and place. It seems, to me, that this song (and even the whole album) is, in part, about growing at a different pace than the person you love and not being able to reconcile that difference. It's also about the mental health issues lead singer Henry Camamile has been very open about struggling with. Mental health is being more openly talked about - especially among male musicians - as of late, and I think it's going to set a precedent for years to come.
"All I Want To Hear You Say" is one of the most fun indie songs released this year, if I'm allowed to be so definitive. I want to do this song on karaoke in a crowded bar so badly. It's quite literally impossible not to dance while it plays. It is also, at its core, the "Sk8er Boi" of 2020. Both songs are about a relationship gone awry because one party feels like they're doing bigger, more important things than the other, and then the "smaller" person ends up on the map.
Quite a few of the songs on the album are ones that we've heard before, but they fit so well, nestled within the songs we're unfamiliar with. It's nice to know that waiting on the other side of a song I've never heard is one I've definitely danced to in the shower. "Do You Really Wanna Know" is one such song, one I can rely on to make me feel better on bad days. "Call Me Out" is the same, one of the songs on the very first EP they ever released, and the drumbeat is, at this point, as familiar as my heartbeat.
"Lie To Me" is completely new, and completely open and vulnerable. "Forever" is about seizing the moment - we're never gonna live forever, so the song says, so why shouldn't we spend the time we do have together? It's what a ballad would sound like if a ballad were traditionally played on a guitar and not a piano.
I genuinely think Sea Girls would be the perfect band to see live. I've been told they are, but I can't wait to find out for myself. I'll forever be kicking myself for not seeing them last summer at Reading - they played the Friday, and we didn't make it into the actual arena until close to two in the afternoon - but their entire album creates and maintains such a specific atmosphere (and I'll make the claim that said atmosphere is a sense of familiarity, of safety and simplicity, which also draws from the excitement of new experiences, and from the fear that comes with throwing yourself into the unknown), and I think it has everything to do with how well these songs are without a doubt going to hold up when it finally comes time to tour the full-length debut.
"Shake" is the one song on the album that feels less like it fits - it's surprisingly and pleasantly bass-forward, heavy and dripping with swagger. It puts the rock in indie rock, until the chorus comes in and it's clear this song isn't even indie - it's alt. "I'm all alone and I just can't shake the feeling," Henry sings, and suddenly I'm reminded of every time I've felt alone. That's what I mean when I say this album - and this band - have atmosphere. Music is meant to make you feel, but Open Up Your Head does you one better, and it makes you feel what they're feeling, turned up to one hundred.
Open Up Your Head is without a doubt one of the best debut releases we'll see this year. Sea Girls took every ounce of momentum they've created over the last three years and made something so heartfelt and true. They might not be critics' favorite new indie band, but their fans love them. They're a band difficult not to like. Everything they release is sincere, important, and easy to relate to - and just as easy to listen to. The album is all about first, lost, and perpetual love, showing it not as the movies do, but instead as it actually is: hard, and frustrating, and messy. And sometimes it never lasts as long as we'd like, or turns out the way you envisioned. With this album, Sea Girls have opened doors and left them hanging, their music drawing inspiration from almost every genre of rock since the late 90s and at the same time, ready to inspire a new generation of musicians.
The album can be streamed wherever you listen to music, and you can pick up a physical copy on the band's website. Sea Girls can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Keep a close eye for when they inevitably make their live return, post-Corona.