The enigmatic outfit return with a compilation of electropop wonders…
It was a pleasant surprise when a series of electrically charged 7″ vinyl singles first started appearing in 2013 from the curiously named Girl One And The Grease Guns.
There’s more than an element of mystery surrounding the electronic outfit, which consisted of Sissy Space Echo, Warren Betamax, Charles Bronson Burner, Bruce LeeFax (with occasional assistance from John Cassette-vetes), although they were true to their manifesto of “causing confusion with a mixture of pure synth pop and more experimental electronic sounds”.
While each single offered up a different face of electronic music, there were elements that glued the whole affair together. There’s certainly a love for ’60s girl groups at large on much of Girl One’s output along with a ‘garage punk’ aesthetic that lends the music a raw, energetic quality.
Now new compilation release The Strange Little Lines That Humans Draw In The Dust gathers together the various tracks from those vinyl releases, alongside a few rarities, to catalogue the band’s releases to date.
Tracks such as ‘Hitting The Brick Wall’ with its rhythmic percussion and electric organ melodies have a charm that’s hard to ignore, while the lyrics deal with themes of frustration and despair. Meanwhile, the lush melodies of ‘Jessica 6’ are a direct nod to those Phil Spector productions of the 1960s. Taking its title from the character played by Jenny Agutter in the 1976 science fiction film Logan’s Run, ‘Jessica 6’ is a short and sweet pop tune that’s one of the album’s standout moments.
‘The Creep Circus’ is a step in another direction. With its unsettling lyrics built around a tune sampled from ’70s children show Picture Box, there’s something perturbing about the track that pulls from an uncertain nostalgia. Elsewhere, the bizarrely-titled ‘Bring On The Dancing Horse Meat’ has a hypnotic electronic rhythm for the first part of the track, which then switches gear to an OMD-esque choral refrain for the final half.
Jumping into more experimental waters, ‘(Here Come The) Catastrophe Machines’ is an electro-trash workout with discordant static and harshly rendered electronics. ‘The Nightmare Room’ weaves in the screeching tones of an ’80s computer game loading screen against a minimal electronic percussion (with a pop song attached). Then there’s the oddly disturbing tones of ‘A Steel Cat In A Glass Jar’ which words alone can’t adequately describe.
For all the intriguing experimental electronic efforts, there’s an equal abundance of electropop numbers, such as the buzzy brilliance of ‘Veronica’ and the superb high energy pop of ‘The Shatterproof Man’, which again offers up a ’60s girl group sensibility against a tune that’s full of synth hooks and charm.
‘No Longer Spellbound’ offers more of a dreampop composition with its breathy vocals, an approach also employed on ‘Minimal Effort’ with its shoegaze sensibilities. ‘Bashed, Beaten And Broken (Trip The Switch)’ gives us more of that garage electro sound with an emphatically delivered vocal that calls to mind ‘lost’ synthpop outfit Indians In Moscow.
There’s a lot packed in on this particular compilation that offers up a selection box of electronic confectionery, some of which might present a challenge to the casual listener. Either way, the enigmatic nature of Girl One And The Grease Guns is enough to bolster interest and broadens the musical spectrum of your average electronic music enthusiast.
The Strange Little Lines That Humans Draw In The Dust is available now via Squirrel Records.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.