Goat Girl’s Holly Mullineaux offers up an escapist lullaby as H.L. Grail with new single ‘OTD’

We glimpse our next holiday on camcorder, carried along on a subtly brilliant loop of sonic haze.

Photo: Maximilian Hetherington | Words: Lloyd Bolton

A soft but insistent loop washes in and out like waves, instantly transporting us to a place of oceanic calm. Simple synth sounds and dancing chorus guitars add to this sense of dreaminess and nostalgia. Perhaps prompted by the video from Boil King, this track feels like old camcorder footage of a holiday. The words H.L. Grail (aka Holly Mullineaux, also of Goat Girl) breathes into the mix, veiled by reverb, further build this mood of pleasant detachment. That is until they reveal the dissatisfaction the sentiment comes from.

Under the cold blue January sky, Mullineaux’s suggestion that, “Maybe it’s time we booked a holiday” strikes one as rather pleasant indeed. Slowly, however, the words unfold to illustrate the emotional turmoil that presses the need for such an escape. ‘OTD’ in this case does not stand for ‘on the door’, as the gig-goer in me initially thought. This is a consideration of fixing problems ‘on the double’, that is to say, as quickly as possible. The lyrics sketch out one side of an attempt to paper over cracks in a relationship. There is a suggestion that the laconic approach to these solutions reflects a degree of apathy that has crept into the relationship. That circular riff at the top begins to speak to this situation, and the cycles of unproductive thought it brings on. Mullineaux’s voice drowns in its dreamy reverb as she noncommittally suggests of holiday destinations that, “Anywhere is fine”.

While representing some of the more textural sonic directions of Goat Girl’s most recent album On All Fours, the track distinguishes this project from Mullineaux’s work with the band. Its form and sound particularly communicate the contribution of co-producer Euan Hinshelwood. Captured here is not only the hazy dreaminess that runs through his work fronting Younghusband, but also the insistence of long looping grooves he plays at the service of Cate le Bon. ‘OTD’ has a similar base to certain le Bon tracks like ‘Miami’ and ‘Sad Nudes’. The joy of its difference is its homely intimacy, with warm synth and guitar tones displacing the metallic austerity that defines Cate le Bon’s work.

As a trail for the forthcoming EP, following debut single ‘Sandman’, this piece suggests an exciting meeting of minds in Mullineaux and Hinshelwood. The only disappointment here is that the track is rather short, perhaps in the service of its own metaphor. Listen to it OTD, for a taste of knowing escapism delivered with a combination of formalist ambition and DIY intimacy.