10th April | Thekla
Playing to a packed-out Thekla, the sense of community that Girl Ray have cultivated around them over the past few years is evident in the utterly captivated audience that have turned out for their euphoric return to Bristol. With a solo Fake Laugh set opening up proceedings, Kamran Khan’s layers of woozy, swooning melodies and enticing swathes of lilting, melancholic dream-pop offer the perfect compliment to Girl Ray’s subsequent set.
As Girl Ray appear on stage, their spellbinding charm descends and pervades throughout the show. The delicate, opening chords of ‘Preacher’ resound as Poppy Hankins’ crystalline, considered vocals chime in before the track swells with soaring violin and rhythmic, swaying grooves. The trio’s aptitude for perfect three-part harmonies is on finest form as each dulcet syllable lingers above glistening, meandering melodies and leisurely percussive accompaniment throughout the set.
The jangly, rich tones of ‘Just Like That’ are imbued with a noisier edge live, with the track stretching out into a dreamy, hazy languor towards the end, encapsulating Girl Ray’s distinct ability to transport you on a purely mesmerising journey within each song with such a seemingly, dextrous ease. As they play tracks from their impressive debut, Earl Grey, these songs take on a certain amplified magnitude live. This comes through subtle instrumental embellishments, or more expansive, drawn out soundscapes that take the tracks through different twists and turns.
Favourites, ‘Stupid Things’ and ‘Don’t Go Back at Ten,’ are received with particular enthusiasm, with the former offering radiant descants, permeated with yearning nostalgia, whilst the angelic, ethereal harmonies of ‘Don’t Go Back at Ten’ are simply breathtaking. Interspersing the set with a handful of new tracks, the band’s capacity for crafting songs that possess an instantly timeless quality is apparent and undeniably distinct. As Girl Ray offer moments of delicate tenderness alongside louder, more dynamic refrains, their music is immersive to the point that, for the duration of the show, we’re fully transported and welcomed into Girl Ray’s enthralling world.
As their set draws to a close with the glowing and charming ‘Trouble,’ abounding in celestial crooning and irresistible basslines, we’re left with an undeniable sense that Girl Ray’s vibrant, disarming indie-pop creations already bear the mark of enduring classics and we can eagerly look forward to whatever they produce next.