Review Summary: If PC Music drops a bomb in the forrest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
GFOTY is a boy crazy bitch. The boy-craziest, bitchiest bitch this side of Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions
. She’ll poison your Starbucks if you try to take her man, and if you don’t buy her a $700 coat, lord have mercy, she’ll wreak all emotional hell on you.
That’s the gig, anyway. How much you buy into Polly-Louisa Salmon’s performative GFOTY moniker, itself part of the PC Music collective, is entirely dependent on your tolerance for this kind of hyper exaggerated character art. If you can swallow it, Salmon’s bitch-with-a-flip-phone caricature is well developed, intriguing and alarmingly recognizable. Over several SOPHIE assisted mixes and a strong EP released earlier this year, GFOTY has made a serious claim for herself as PC Music’s premiere pop queen. Unfortunately, applying all these character politics and performative gestures to an enjoyable product is challenging, and that difficulty has never been so clear as it is on her new compilation, Call Him a Doctor
suffers from a serious lack of cohesion. Unlike the Christina Aguilera turned Lou Reed psychodrama of VIPOTY
, each track struggles to marry its industrial influence to the larger pop body, resulting in unbalanced messes like “Snakes + Ladders” where screeching noise and mid-2000’s top forty rub against each other like transform plate boundaries. “The Argument” is a hamfisted commentary on the difficulty of communication and easily the worst song of GFOTY’s career, butchering an A.G. Cook appearance with literal drivel as the two rhyme back and forth, “crumb cum cum crumb crumb lumb.” It’s close to unlistenable.
It might be the introduction of guitar that derails the project so severely, or maybe just GFOTY’s inability to work well with others. Although some of her best work has come with collaborations with Coook and SOPHIE, it’s always been Salmon’s narrative voice carrying the tracks and with it reading so weakly here, it just isn’t enough to keep the project from violently imploding. There’s so much going on in Call Him a Doctor
that it all comes across as incomprehensible, not intelligent. At its best, Salmon has utilized the EP to add a few layers of emotionality to her character, “You Don’t” employing an electro-string instrumentation to convey real anxiety about unrequited love. But for those solid two minutes, there’s another twenty of content that neither speaks to GFOTY as a character or says anything else of substance at all. Aside from the occasional punchline - “let’s call him a doctor, cuz’ I want to *** him again” is a good one - Salmon’s uncanny observations on millennial lust are all but vanished.
Like any PC Music associated project, there’s a question as to if maybe we’re just not “getting it” - that somehow, the mysterious ideological content of the EP is just too lofty to be immediately understood. Not so with Call Him a Doctor
, where the precise polish of GFOTY’s earlier work goes missing for an onslaught of mismatched sentiments, disastrous guitar experiments and a generally unproductive set of lyrics. It’s a sign of growth for sure, but it’s also an awkward misstep, a puberty for the artist that’s perhaps best unseen.
So GFOTY is still a boy-crazy bitch. But with music like this, are we really supposed to care?