If you’ve ever had the chance to see Horrible Girl & The Hot Mess play around Greenville, SC or abroad, you know they’re a very special breed of punks. Self-described as “kitten punk,” they create a giant sonic palette of fuzzed out Fender guitars, keyboards, and cymbal crashes. Taking the Pixies’ “loud quiet loud” formula, their newest single “Graduation” is a fuzzed-out, triumphant anthem about the struggle to live one’s best life.
There are a lot of songs written about wanting to leave your hometown. “Graduation” is not about running away from the past, however. It’s about running towards your true identity and a future full of hope.
Singer and lyricist Amelia Hall sings, “After the summer, gonna move really far away, / graduate, then take the interstate, to a city where no one knows your dead name.” As her voice moves from a whisper to a howl, Hall lets us know that she’s had enough. Singing about her job washing dishes, she sings, “And if the cook with the cross has something to say about the lace on your shirt / you’ll cut his throat with a broken plate.”
The image here is perfect; someone attempting to work in solitude and silence and being interrupted and harassed by co-workers. It made me angry just listening to it. The final lyrics of the song are just a question: “If I tell you are you really gonna use my name?” Hall and company have mastered the concept of taking serious and heartfelt lyrics and putting them over upbeat, “happier” sounding music.
There isn’t a minor chord in “Graduation,” as far as I can tell. Yet, the song gains power and emotion from the clash of the major chords and the heartfelt plea to recognize the singer’s identity. The songwriting is reminiscent of the songs on early Mountain Goats tapes, where the emotion is almost boiling over. Unlike the Mountain Goats, however, the music Horrible Girl makes is loud, rebellious, and distorted to the max.
According to their Bandcamp, “Graduation” is the second single from an upcoming album called Do You Know Who Your Friends Are?. Their Bandcamp is also home to the first single, “Hot Topic Friends.” If the rest of the album sounds anything like these two songs, it’ll be one hell of a record. Listen to “Graduation” now, and be sure to check back soon for information about their next full length!