Girlhood The Preatures UMA Aussie pop rockers the Preatures’ second album is unmistakably Sydney.
The songs on Girlhood contain stories and sounds so closely entwined with the NSW capital you can almost feel the late-night thrum of Newtown’s King Street or the fresh sea spray of Bondi Beach emanating from the tunes.
The 11-track album is all about growing up in the city as a young girl, and charts the complexities, thrills and vulnerabilities of life as a modern Sydney woman.
It’s a sonic memoir for lead vocalist and co-writer Isabella “Izzi” Manfredi, who lays bare her soul, particularly on soft contemplative ballads Your Fan and Cherry Ripe.
It has been three tumultuous years since the release of the band’s stellar debut Blue Planet Eyes. When Girlhood was beginning to take shape in January last year, guitaristvocalist Gideon Bensen left the band and then drummer Luke Davison slipped a disc in his back, putting the band out of action for months.
But that extra time has allowed the resulting sophomore release to be wellmeasured and masterfully constructed.
Producer and guitarist Jack Moffitt, drummer Davison and bassist Thomas Champion create an infectious energy, and LA mixing engineer Bob Clearmountain, (Bruce Springsteen, the Divinyls, Crowded House), expertly completes the slick production.
Opener and first single Girlhood is undoubtedly a highlight, a catchy vintage rock anthem that lyrically references SleaterKinney’s memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, complete with a pulsing tempo and superb guitar solo.
Mess It Up and Nite Machine inject some of the soul groove reminiscent of the group’s popular 2013 track Is This How You Feel? and give scope to Manfredi’s impressive vocals.
As well as sonically reflecting the city she grew up in, Manfredi uses Girlhood to explore her cultural roots, having being born to an Italian father and British-Australian mother on Gadigal land.
“I write songs to understand myself,” Manfredi said in the lead-up to the album’s launch. “Understanding and respecting those histories is part of who I am. I’m trying to find some harmony in the contrasts.”
Manfredi sings in Italian on album closer Something New, a mellow track about the time she spent $7000 on clothes in Las Vegas in a “streak of madness”.
Stunning track Yanada, which means “moon” in the indigenous Dharug language of Sydney, was written in collaboration with Darug woman Jacinta Tobin to reflect the indigenous heritage of the region.
The result is a compelling ode to Sydney and in particular the girls who grow up within its complex web of bustling streets and vibrant suburbia.
Girlhood is not only a rumination on the pieces of childhood we take with us as we get older, but the fragments of the city we grow up in that we carry with us no matter where we go for the rest of our lives.