mandy lawn girl cover scaled

Mandy – Lawn Girl (Exploding in Sound Records)

From now on, anything called ‘Mandy’ gets a wholehearted seal of approval. This is based on nothing but universal coincidence and a subjective frame of reference that includes the insanely intense psychedelic love dynamic between Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough in Panos Cosmatos‘ film Mandy, and the name of Diane Morgan‘s hapless, contorted heroine in the BBC comedy. And now there is another.

This new Mandy, aka Melkbellys Miranda Winters, describes her sound as “dirty-bubblegum pop rock,” capturing its sweet grit and persistent, chewy allure. Mandy’s debut album, Lawn Girl, is a tour bus mixtape of noise rock and indie, drawing inspiration from Sonic Youth, Veruca Salt and the like, yet crafted with the world-weariness of singer-songwriters like Connie Converse and Elliott Smith.

Joined by an all-women band, Linda Sherman (guitar), Lizz Smith (bass) and Wendy Zeldin (drums), Winters digs into femininity, exploring themes of motherhood (her Mom is on the album cover), friendships, and the challenges of creating art in a male-dominated industry. The album is less noisy, with a vulnerable, but no less oddball, mood compared to Winters’ work with Melkbelly. Then, life has inevitably moved on since those early days of impromptu gigs in heaving, sweaty basements where she earned a reputation for fearsome vocals that can switch between thunder and rainbows in a heartbeat.

Lawn Girl is perhaps the first, long exploration of Winters’ innermost ‘stuff’ since 2018’s Xobeci, What Grows Here? when she asked, “Can you hear my voice?/Tell me what does it sound like?” (‘Hardy Garden Plot’). 2020’s All Purpose, a quietly poised collaboration with The Hecks‘ Dave Vettraino, Lillie from Lala Lala, and Deeper‘s Nic Gohl, hinted at another stylistic direction again. Since then, those early green shoots have become a dense, thriving mass of ideas alive with self-reflection: “When I think of these songs all together, I see the colour green,” Winters says. “I’m seeing green for the very clichéd reason that the record feels like a rebirth, or a turning point, or a transition into a new phase of life. Some of this material has been floating around with me for a while, and I feel that by packaging it all up, I can say goodbye and move forward.”

The result is an album that shares some of its vibe and a couple of tracks with Xobeci… developing them from sketches into something solid and deep, alongside some fresh, new ideas. The story of ‘Mickey’ (whose pets met an untimely end) kicks harder and grungier and sounds less sympathetic with a full band. Likewise, ‘A Series of Small Explosions’, collides into its own crashing, percussive bursts and guitar feedback, taking chunks out of the song structure. As great as they sound, in the context of Lawn Girl, however, these older songs are less interesting than Winters’ newer ones.

‘Forsythia’ opens the album with its choppy, rumbling guitar grind and crash cymbals cutting a path through feedback. Not an overt nod to the Veruca Salt track of the same name, the track is Winters says, “…about the internal landscapes we create in response to our external locations” , specifically the plant forsythia which always seems to show up, symbolically, at just the right time in her life. A “ballad for teenage girls everywhere”, ‘High School Boyfriend’ is a raucous two minutes of raw punk emotion and revenge, framed by its cheerleader guitar hook. ‘Ms Appear’ buzzes manically through a hash of alt rock styles, Winters’ versatile vocals providing a consistent, compelling thread along the way. Different again, yet oddly familiar, ‘Acid Base’ is a surprisingly down-key stomp, which has Winters reaching into lower, quieter hushes that are both delicate and menacing. Elsewhere, there are moments of tender introspection, where Winters bares her soul with unflinching honesty, as on ‘Elder Fire’ a, quieter, but emotionally divided track about the influence of youthful friendships on how we grow up. Similarly, the cover of Jimmy Webb‘s ‘Now That I’m A Woman’ drawn from The Last Unicorn soundtrack, sums up the essence of Lawn Girl and Winters taking stock of her creative and personal life, and wondering about the future.

Just as The Breeders weren’t a sidebar project of Pixies, Mandy is not merely some Melkbelly offshoot. Sometimes, stepping out of our own shadow and doing things on our terms, enables our truest selves to shine – even if we need to reflect back on our origins for a while. On that front, Mandy nails it.

’Lawn Girl’ is released on 26th April via Exploding in Sound Records

Photo credit: Sarah K Joyce

Mandy CreditSarahJoyce


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.