We all know ROE by now, don’t we? Self-styled as “grumpy electro-pop” but you could be forgiven for thinking grumpy is not exactly the most appropriate word to describe the Derry native’s new single ‘Girls‘.
While grumpy pop conjures images of irritability and nihilism, ‘Girls’ by contrast leaves me with a sense of discernible fragility. It’s a song that makes me think about the vulnerability we can sometimes feel in modern life, the dissonance between how we see the world and how the world actually is. Lyrically ROE is far from grumpy; much more like a diary entry than a Morrissey monologue.
This would be consistent with what ROE herself has said about ‘Girls’: “There is so much pressure to be perfect these days, especially in a world controlled by social media. We look at stunning models with gorgeous hair and makeup that seem to be having the time of their lives every day, when for most of us this isn’t a reality. ‘Girls’ is about changing the goalposts on social expectations and accepting yourself for who you are no matter what flawless content you see online. We are all individuals; we are all perfect and we owe it to ourselves to own that.”
The vocal performance is a standout element of this song. The economic use of falsetto, the double tracked unison vocals that pop in and out for the odd line, the subtle backing vocals buried in the chorus background. It all blends together to drive home the message and intent of the song in a way I think many other vocalists couldn’t.
Sparse electric guitar chords, rhythmically reminiscent of an acoustic pop song, set the foundation for the track. The electronic elements are not long joining in. They consist of programmed drums and synth lines that dictate the energy and direction of the song. Each section flows into the next so well you hardly notice just how much the song changes by the end of it.
The arrangement is clever. It keeps you on your toes as the song jumps between softer and more intense sections, combined with clever hooks that make ‘Girls’ a very sensible yet interesting pop song I recommend you listen to.