Album Review: Muncie Girls - Fixed Ideals

Words by Daniel Rourke

Following the release of their debut album 'From Caplan To Belsize', it seemed Muncie Girls were set to be the next British alternative band to barge their way onto the stages of O2 owned venues. The unexpected rise of the band saw Lande Hekt and co. play alongside Taking Back Sunday and legendary My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero, as well as being nominated for best British newcomer at the 2016 Kerrang! Awards. However, despite their initial rise, the band are still known as the best-kept secret in the UK alternative scene. Whilst they may still be the hidden gems of the alt-rock scene to many, their sophomore release 'Fixed Ideals' could be the record that sees the trio finally burst into households up and down the country.

Opening on Jeremy, there's an air of familiarity, as Hekt unapologetically bares all about her relationship with her father to the background of Dean McMullen's infectious chords. It's a track that sums both Muncie Girls and their second outing up perfectly, as simple sounds are met with unequivocal personal and political lyrics such as: "I'm so angry, I'm gonna get a tattoo that says fuck Jeremy Clarkson and fuck you too."

The themes of family and politics seep through the core of 'Fixed Ideals', alongside a well-focused discussion on mental health. In lead single Picture of Health, we first see Hekt touch on the idea of mental well-being, as the verses see her describe feelings of being the one forgotten sheep and the chorus serves as a rallying cry for friendship and helping others. It's in this track in which the band hit their peak, with the songwriting dripping in honesty as well as serving as one of the best tracks the band have produced from a musical standpoint, one that is sure to be sung back at the band just as hard as Hekt sings it.

While touched on in previous tracks, it is in Clinic in which the listener begins to recognise the severity of the theme. The track is based around a trip to the clinic, with Hekt struggling to come to terms with a three-week waiting list, then ending up on the "fixed list" despite still struggling. It's an emotionally endearing track, that presents Hekt at her absolute best with lines such as, "I woke up early that Tuesday as I did then every week and the more times that I did that, the less I felt like a freak."

'Fixed Ideals' presents a clear growth in Muncie Girls, becoming more and more prevalent as the album progresses. Lyrically, Hekt has never been better, from blatant cries for change in the engrossing punk whirlwind that is Locked Up to snappy - almost comical - lines such as: "He liked a pint of imported lager // but didn't like anyone with an imported father," found in Fig Tree.

Unlike most within their scene, Muncie Girls tend not to spend too long fixated with themselves and their own struggles, and it's in these moments in which their true humanity shows. Laugh Again is a prime example of Hekt putting her own struggles to the side to aid a friend with lines such as: "You've been so sad for so long and I wanna see you laughing again my friend," presenting a band with a lot more heart than many of their peers.

Album closer, Family Of Four, presents a rather bleak ending to the record, as politics become the focal point. Hekt bookends the record with the lines: "Oh well, I grew up powerless and I'll die just the same. I'll go from the afternoon to the nightshift all for someone else's gain." It's a simple line, and one that we've seen before, but the craft that goes into the track renders it one of the most hard-hitting moments on the record.

Overall, it's the personal moments that make 'Fixed Ideals' something special, whether it be the alcoholism-fueled discussion on tracks such as Falling Down and Hangover, the power-pop romps such as is Isn't Life Funny or the dreamscape that is Bubble Bath, there seems to be a moment on the album in which every listener will find time to resonate with.