The second offering from Muncie Girls, Fixed Ideals is a concise sophomore album that is incredibly tight and shows no sign of a second-album slump.
The album kicks off with opening track ‘Jeremy’ which is sufficiently crunchy with Dean McMullen and Lande Hekt’s guitars, and it’s a good track to ease into the record. It feels weighty thanks to work from drummer Luke Ellis (who impresses throughout the album), but it’s still balanced out by Hekt’s clear and sharp vocals, which help to smooth out the overall sound on this track and the entire album. Cheeky lyrics like “I’m so angry, I’m going to get a tattoo…that says, ‘Fuck Jeremy Clarkson’ and ‘fuck you too’”, are interwoven with more serious lyrics that continue to look at the album’s themes of anxiety, relationships and trying not to sabotage life with alcohol.
These themes continue into the lead single ‘Picture of Health,’ which is an incredibly catchy track that has great energy again from Ellis, trucking along nicely until a very disarming breakdown. The song almost halts to a standstill before Hekt again remarks “I’ve been having a hard time looking after myself. You’re not looking exactly like a picture of health. I was thinking maybe you could look after me and I could do the same for you.” Putting out that idea of helping others to help yourself is an honest and truthful one, that makes the lead single an energetic album highlight.
Popguns’ influence is clear across the album and the overall Muncie Girls sound, with Hekt’s vocals helping add that smooth layer to the crunch and grit provided by her bandmates. Still delivering lyrics like “I just want to feel real” in High, the writing is fairly visceral and doesn’t pull too many punches across the record, which lends to the overall strength of the album.
Fixed Ideals also does a really good job of offering contrast throughout the record, as ‘Clinic’ proves to be a nice change of pace, particularly with its chorus not just throttling away with a violent tempo. Definitely one of my favourite tracks of the album after repeated listening.
‘Isn’t Life Funny’ is another different form of colour and sound on the album, with some nice keys/xylophone providing some more clarity in amongst the fuzz and momentum the track has, sidling that balance between pop and punk beautifully. ‘Bubble Bath’ literally has bubbles popping throughout the track, in amongst more tight drumming from Ellis and Hekt signing about “Bubble bath tears”. An unexpected little treat on the album, jarring initially with the sound effects but a really tight track nonetheless.
‘Fig Tree’ and ‘Locked Up’ are incredibly danceable tracks that would have been perfect on a Saturday night at BANG (RIP), while ‘Laugh Again’ showcases Hekt’s desire to help her friends who have been “So sad for so long”, in another catchy track. ‘Hangovers’ is a really nice change of pace again, with acoustic guitar and piano accompanying Hekt’s vocals perfectly, while she reminisces singing “I used to fall asleep thinking of you”, with the track’s variety standing out.
Fixed Ideals keeps things tight with all tracks under 4 minutes, but every track still offers a different colour and mood for the listener. Sometimes when pop-punk (or really a band from any genre) put together an album with quite a few short songs, the energy can be relentless without any light and shade – struggling to provide contrast and make the record stand out. This album isn’t one of those; every track offers something different and exciting, which leaves Muncie Girls in a great place after their second album.