A Suitable Girl Ali Barter Inertia “What’s a woman meant to look like?” It’s a poignant question posed by Melbourne songwriter Ali Barter and it cuts straight to the beating feminist heart of her superb debut, A Suitable Girl. A woman, we discover, is meant to look however she wants. Wrapped in a whirring grunge/pop soundscape, Barter’s lyrics offer a raw and unapologetic insight into the competing expectations of young women, while also making uncanny, mundane everyday observations. The title is inspired by Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy, one of the longest novels published in English, which Barter inverts in gender, form and length. In 11 tracks Barter canvasses heartbreak, intoxication, the naivety of youth, coming of age and the journey to selfacceptance as a young woman in the 21st century. A former choir girl and Triple J Unearthed winner, Barter knows how to pack a punch with her sweet yet assertive vocals. Her voice soars like fellow Aussie rocker Katy Steele’s. A Suitable Girl is made cohesive with solid production from Barter’s husband Oscar Dawson from Holy Holy. First single Girlie Bits is a riot grrrl rallying cry, enveloped in dynamic pop rock a la No Doubt or Veruca Salt. Cigarette sways gracefully against the rattling guitars and Live with You whirrs with swathing guitar and echoing vocals. Far Away crescendos in grungy cries, Delilah hums with spacious strums and Tokyo melts tenderly, exposing Barter at her most vulnerable. Walk/Talk closes the album with a strident beat and catchy chorus, a suitable end to A Suitable Girl.