“Nobody moves, it’s a movie … How do I look now? Am I beauty?”
That’s all it takes for beloved Sydney band The Preatures to announce their return with Girlhood, a song that deals with the contradictions of modern womanhood while paying homage to the Divinyls, the Pretenders and the Angels.
The title track of the much-anticipated second record is driving and infectious; a call-to-arms for young women to become the heroine of their own story.
Singer Isabella “Izzi” Manfredi demands “Give me heroism, give me what is mine” with the knowing nonchalance you might expect from Chrissie Hynde or Chrissy Amphlett.
With guitarist and producer Jack Moffitt’s sophisticated take on a classic sound, and carried by the rhythm section of Thomas Champion on bass and drummer Luke Davison, the hard-touring band sound tighter than ever.
Girlhood references Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney’s memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl – a brutally honest tale of navigating the music biz as a female artist – and the canon of feminist punk. But Izzi and the Preatures translate these concepts into something more playful.
“I can only speak of my own experiences, I’m not trying to speak for other women,” she says. “This song is about exploring the contradictions of my own identity.”
Girlhood toys with the duality of womanhood; it is strong yet sensitive, forceful yet vulnerable. As Izzi says: “It’s a very self-aware song”.
While it was among the first songs written for the Preatures’ second album, Girlhood went through several incarnations before the band found the right sonic mix of rough and smooth, strong and vulnerable to match Izzi’s lyrics.
The song sets the tone for the much-anticipated follow-up to 2014 hit album Blue Planet Eyes. The Preatures have spent the past year and a half refining a record that reflects their charismatic singer’s growth as a songwriter and the quartet’s development as a recording entity.
The album was recorded and produced by Moffitt at their Doldrums studio in Surry Hills, before the band enlisted acclaimed mixing engineer Bob Clearmountain, who has worked with everyone from Bowie and Bruce to Aussie icons INXS, Divinyls and Crowded House, to give the songs a final spit and polish in LA.
Three years after Blue Planet Eyes – home to Somebody’s Talking, Cruel and the Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition winning hit Is This How You Feel? – Girlhood bursts out of the blocks and builds anticipation for the album.
Expect more ear candy when that arrives, but until then Girlhood gives fans a fresh blast from one of the most beloved bands to emerge on the Australian scene in recent years.