Brooklyn punk duo Groupie released their debut album Ephemeral in early 2021. A culmination of the band’s efforts after their 2018 breakout Validated and after a multitude of singles released during 2020. Where previously the group tackled social justice and political issues straight to the point, this time they look inward instead. Coursing through their personal experiences to express their views on society and living through the pandemic. Ephemeral centers around the fleeting moments in human experiences, regardless if they have a large impact or not. By way of introspection they manage to send their message succinctly with a more personal touch. Similar to their approach, the duo has also evolved their sound, dipping into dream-pop post-punk and shoegaze among a few others while still maintaining their rebellious drive.
“Half Wave” is a groovy blend of post-punk and power pop with hooks that glide and lyrics that bite. The song ends in a hypnotic verse that alludes to a relationship that’s in limbo, repeating in a languid cadence that fades into a dark and grim end. “Poor You” shares the same anger and defiance with a bass line and harmony that brushes through surf and dub. This song lashes out at an authority figure stuck up on their high horse: “No consequences / No Boundaries / They’ll make an example out of you.”
Indeed these are songs with great weight to them. Ashley Kossakowski and Johanna Healy are proponents of the riot grrrl aesthetic, providing a space in punk that embraces sensitivity while still packing a good punch. Each song’s narrative is diverse enough but look into aspects of life that we can all relate to. “Industry” tackles issues on consumerism from a personal perspective, critiquing how we are urged to go buy everything to be happy yet we’re “still feelin’ empty.” Half of “Daleko” is written in the Polish language with its title meaning “far away”. It talks about family separation amidst the pandemic and the circumstances of immigration policies that make it hard for us to connect to our roots.
Yet by far the hardest hitting song in here is “Waiting”. Filled with slow riffs that brood with anger and frustration. It recounts the experiences of Kossakowski who suffered unemployment during the pandemic period. The song is spacious and haunting, perfectly capturing the emptiness that comes with uncertainty and depression.
Ephemeral is varied with its narrative, encompassing a space that’s equally fun and dark in fleeting moments. For a long anticipated debut, Groupie has hit it out of the park.