If you missed Muncie Girls‘ debut From Caplan to Belsize, you missed a treat. They emerged as part of a minor wave of similarly college rock-influenced bands like Doe and Personal Best singing about their experiences through the lens of their experiences as women and feminists. There was always something more personal about Muncie Girls though, singer Lande Hekt’s ability to make you feel like she’s talking to you and you alone gave From Caplan to Belsize the air of reading her diaries, but not in a voyeuristic way. It’s more like she’s invited you to, like she’s relying on the listener to be her support network as she goes through struggles.
Second album Fixed Ideals continues in a similar vein, but the focus has shifted slightly to mental health troubles. On lead single and second track ‘Picture of Health’ Hekt confesses she’s been “having a hard time looking after myself” and offering to look after the subject of the song in exchange for the same, a low-key support group after “seven days… make you think that good friends are an illusion”. Later ‘Clinic’ talks about her experiences of going to the doctor for help with panic attacks only to be faced with a three week wait to begin with and later her frustrations at being “added to the fixed list even though I struggled still”. It’s a story that hits close to home; I’ve recently started medication for my anxiety after a particularly overwhelming period and am waiting for a CBT referral. But there’s something reassuring about the way Hekt sings about her experiences, a background air of hope.
There’s a wider look at the causes of her stresses and coping mechanisms as well. Opener ‘Jeremy’ is about her absent, frankly useless father and includes the priceless line “I’m so angry I’m going to get a tattoo/That says ‘fuck Jeremy Clarkson and fuck you too'”. ‘Bubble Bath’ is about giving up eating animals and includes the surprisingly effective sound of bubbles being blown in a drink. That’s just one example of how the Muncie Girls pallette has expanded too; ‘Falling Down’ and ‘Isn’t Life Funny’ lean in more of a pop direction than they’ve done before, ‘Hangovers’ winds the record down with acoustic strumming and piano before ‘Family of Four’ closes proceedings in dramatic, widescreen fashion while raging against the Tories and the DWP. In lesser hands all of this lyrical seriousness could become wearing but Muncie Girls shape it into another brilliant record with a deft touch and an ear for a melodic hook.
Fixed Ideals is out now on Specialist Subject Records.