Recommended Tracks: “Hot!”, “Gumby”, “Where This Goes”
Artists You May Like: P!nk, Anne-Marie, Caroline Polachek
Interesting title for an album, right? An exclamation mark and an unhappy face? Why? Is this hotness happy or sad? There are a lot of questions, a lot of mystery, which Goblynne answers and uncovers on this debut album. Unravelling the beauty and chaos one track at a time, Goblynne tells us their views on womanhood and femininity and how it all ties into “being hot.”
One of the many layers on this album involves relationships, and we can start with the relationships that bring out an enamored yet reserved energy. At first, we get a sense that Goblynne is more restrained when it comes to love and being with someone full-heartedly, as heard on the opening track “Get & Go.” Here, Goblynne is convincing themselves that they can be sexy instead of tough, channeling that belief in lines like, “But you got me by surprise, there’s something in your eyes / Something soft, something almost sweet / And you’re supposed to be rough.” By owning this softer side, they are then able to see what others might see in a relationship. On “Fear Is Normal, Always,” Goblynne bundles up the nerves and the elation all in one. Through the cosmic sounds and the eclipsing lines, we understand how scary yet exciting it was for Goblynne to meet their partner. This is expressed through the main line, “Have you ever seen something so good it hurts to look right at it?” We know that Goblynne is in a safe place, however, when we get to “Only Thing.” It is a refreshing song on the album, the tracks that we hear up until that point casting more of a negative shadow on love. Its cool R&B vibe drives away any doubt or insecurities, backed up through the lyrics. Goblynne expresses, “Oh, when you come around / I feel like myself / When you come around / Everything that I know, it just goes up in smoke, and there’s nothing and nobody else” and “With your eyes on me, I don’t feel like a woman, I don’t feel like a man / Keep your eyes on me, yeah right here with me, you are moonlight and you are beach sand,” trusting that this is where they belong.
To better understand how special it is for Goblynne to have this love in their life, we can go to the songs that detail their negative experiences with relationships. On the haunting “Alone With You,” the track plays out like a horror movie. We have swells of sound effects that create a sinister soundtrack to the lyrics, which explain how lonely Goblynne felt with this person by their side. They sing, “Even when I slept in your bed, under the open window / I was alone / California breeze on my back, with your hands on me, touching me, I was alone.” The horror vibes subside when we get to “Gumby,” an alt-R&B tune that acknowledges the flaws in the men they have dated. As Goblynne realizes how hung up they were on “cigarette men, plain shit men, Gumby-looking men,” they find a strength within themselves to move on. They sing, “Playing games again / Fixating again / Up late texting you / I don’t want to be that girl no more.” This strength also surfaces on “This Was No Love,” where the strong downbeats and echoed vocals enhance this powerful spirit. With vocals that are desperate for a change, Goblynne claims, “You don’t get to have / All of me / I belong to me.”
In between these moments of pure joy and total heartbreak, Goblynne resurrects an attention-seeking character that exaggerates the feminine and girly qualities that are often associated with women. On the snarky “Hot!,” Goblynne shows us what it would be like if Mean Girls was a song. Over a club-infused energy, Goblynne sing-speaks, “Oh, so you play guitar? Oh you used to! / No, shut up! Like, shut up! / You’re literally hilarious / Oh, so you have a car, and you drive? / Tell me more,” the spirit of The Plastics definitely present. With “Put Down Ur Phone (And Look At Me),” we get a jealous girlfriend-type that demands priority over a cell phone. It begins with a sample of “Hey babe” and “Sorry,” setting us up for the drama. We then get other lines like, “Who is that on Instagram, do you think they’re prettier than me?” and “Promise I’m better than whatever’s on your screen (Probably),” with cuts and snips of “Put down your phone” in between. The most energetic of these kinds of tracks is “I’m a Little Sweetie,” which Goblynne has described as “a perfect representation of my experience of femininity.” It captures Goblynne’s need “to rage and scream,” the sped-up vocals and repetition of “I’m a little sweetie” working together to drive anyone mad.
Overall, Goblynne has undeniably captured the complexities of femininity with this album. Goblynne demonstrates the pressures that come from being a woman or a girl, where an expectation is made to act soft or cute or hot because that is what society insists. But they also demonstrate that femininity involves strength, confidence, and expression. It can be a jumble of feelings at times, the smart pop music of the album helping amplify these emotions, but it all alludes to being human.