Album Review: Early Girl — ‘Lovers Out to Pasture’

On their Bandcamp page, Iowa City trio Early Girl proudly proclaim to be “bringing queer aesthetics back to pop rock.” The gritty opening riff of “Green Eyes” telegraphs this plainly, immediately invoking the shimmy bop of the B-52’s iconic “Private Idaho.”

But Early Girl builds on the influence of their predecessors by weaving a sly aggression into the groove. “Green eyes / Blonde hair / I’m here to make you stare.” Early Girl knows who they are. They want you to know, too.

There’s a pronounced confidence woven throughout Early Girl’s debut EP, Lovers Out to Pasture. Talera Jensen’s galloping bass line of the aptly named opening track “Sawhorse Sweetie” synced with the tight, propulsive drumming provided by their partner, August Jensen, lays a solid foundation for the brightly charged riffs that Aaron Longoria brings to the mix. The tune commands your attention, daring you not to bounce along with it.

The playful urgency of “Red Lips” chugs along with infectious, fuzzy chords. But as the song ends with the impassioned refrain of “YOU DON’T MEAN SHIT TO ME!” Early Girl’s gritty aplomb becomes not only evident but solidified. The band is more than happy to bring you along for the ride, but they don’t need you to have a good time.

On the track “Ice,” the self-proclaimed power pop trio charges headlong into classic punk rock. The salty sneer of the lyrics carry all the hallmarks of the genre. Pummeling, lo-fi aggression plunges the listener into the middle of a raw, interpersonal conflict. Just as soon as the spleen had been vented, the subject of the verbal onslaught is dismissed just as flippantly. It’s cathartic and a lot of fun.

The EP’s second track, “Four-Leaf Clover” is almost sedate by comparison. The vibe is very pleasant and relaxed, but the song’s structure is rudimentary as it somewhat aimlessly drones along.

“Sink In” closes things out with a refinement of what fails to crystallize on “Four-Leaf Clover.” Sunny and optimistic, it leaves you wanting more.

There is an interesting dichotomy present in Lovers Out to Pasture. Tracks like “Green Eyes,” “Red Lips” and “Ice” have a strong chip on their shoulder. But there’s a breeziness to tracks like “Sawhorse Sweetie” and “Sink In” that balances everything out.

It’s a treat to encounter an EP as self-assured as Lovers Out to Pasture. Laser-focused, each song gets in and gets out in under three minutes. Early Girl knows how to make a lasting impression without superfluous showboating.

This article was originally published in Little Village’s August 2023 issue.