Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Matriarchy heralds girli's glorious new era of authenticity


Release date: 17 May 2024
Girli Matriarchy cover
17 May 2024, 09:00 Written by Matt Young

Girli metaphorically drops the mic in the middle of her new album's titular song.

"Body hair in places boys don’t like / Touch me in places they can't find” is a piercing fuck you to the decriers and naysayers of both positive feminist attitudes and LGBTQ+ allies and in relationships. Indeed this is backed up further – one extra kick to the guts – with “When we touch, we fuck to fuck the patriarchy”. The lyrics are a fine snapshot of Matriarchy as an album where there’s a rebellious theme coursing throughout.

But the pumping beats and dense synth pads on this standout song are a long way off in the tracklisting. It’s initially difficult to pin down the tone as the album begins with the fast out-of the-gates ode to self-love and me time “Be With Me”, or rather looking for your self reflected in others. There’s a well-worn fallacy that opposites attract but girli knows that’s not true, and as she leans into the bright jangling 80s guitar sounds of “Nothing Hurts Like a Girl” where “No one knows me better / No one gets me wetter" and “Nothing feels quite like her” there’s little nuance or shying away from the sapphic byline she’s talking about as if the title itself wasn’t a big enough clue.

Alongside the bravado and strength displayed is an honesty that digs just as deeply into girli’s psyche. “Overthinking” is riven with the anxieties of negative thoughts running off and living their own lives, beyond rationality or trust. It’s an absolute banger though, with a chorus that you can imagine would fit perfectly dancing your feelings away. They can lead to some uncomfortable listening on the likes of “Kind of Stuck” being “stuck in this shitty little bedroom” or “Made To Break” as she proclaims with indignation, “I can hurt myself just fine / I don’t need you to”. The heartbreak of following someone to “Tokyo” only to find the relationship has died and she berates herself, not for trying to rescue things, but for not realising ahead of her fourteen-hour flight.

All tracks here have a slick electro-pop sheen that makes the subject matter more digestible, if not free from pain. As much as there may be narrative parity, there’s nothing to immediately compare Matriarchy with the sad girl aesthetic or dark academia vibe that pervades many popular female performers' material right now. She embraces CHVRCHES or Charli XCX far more than the confessional, lore-fixated approach of Taylor, Phoebe, Lana, or even the balancing act that Olivia Rodrigo does, straddling between these two stools.

Whereas the latter few tend to feel like they’re romanticizing dissatisfaction or personal suffering and feeding a ravenous pack of hungry mini-me’s girli maintains the TikTok trending potential of writing fantastic relatable tunes without condescending. Although to be fair to Rodrigo she also subverts in the same way that Matriarchy can, and that Lily Allen did so adeptly, by calling out bullshit when she sees it. There’s also a “You’re such a dick I wanna be like you” undercurrent to a lot of the songs on the album whether genuine or faked till you make it. “Kind of Stuck” has some great couplets in this vane and the burrowing melody never leaves your head after listening.

Girli may have previously only been a niche concern – PC Pop for a bubblegum-friendly crowd – but this feels so much more encompassing. It could be that the anxieties and sheer weight of emotional drama on display might be viewed as ‘a lot’. “Feel My Feelings” fully admits to recognising the seesaw of highs and lows, the extremes of emotion, and blowing everything out of proportion and that leads to scaring off potential partners. Particularly on “Poser” which leads us neatly where we came in on the title track itself. We’re armed and informed with so much information. We’ve bopped and cried. Embraced and hidden away and above all empathised so that the final song “Happier Her” feels like a lightening of the load as girli figures life and relationships out more often. She’s able to reproach her inner monologue, berating and soothing in equal measure. It’s tough love with an often sarcastic and dark heart, usually at her own expense, but ultimately this new era for girli seems far brighter.

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