Haley Holgate marks her arrival with A Good Feminist, an indie-pop debut that navigates the complexities of what it means to be a woman.
Haley Holgate has grappled with what it means to be a feminist on her incisive and soul-bearing new pop single, A Good Feminist.
Coasting on grungy guitar licks and dreamy synths, the single rightfully forefronts the Sydney singer’s tender vocals, so angelic and airy you might just levitate upon your first listen.
What begins as soft acoustic pop — helped along by the intimacy of finger-plucked strings — later transforms into something more anthemic, as Holgate’s cool timbre swells around epic orchestral layers.
Elsewhere veering towards rock-ier corners, A Good Feminist also boasts punchy percussive throughlines and a general fuzz-rock groove.
So ubiquitous is the indie-pop descriptor that you might expect a green musician like Holgate to be lost among the heap, but A Good Feminist instead serves as a precursor of what’s sure to be one of the genre’s most promising voices.
Even still, indie-pop doesn’t quite cover the sonic diversity that brims in every moment of A Good Feminist. With the intimacy of bedroom pop, flurries of electronica and a distinct lo-fi feel, the single refuses to be restricted by any one sound; possessing a level of defiance that’s reflected in Holgate’s lyricism.
Here, the singer laments the contortions and contradictions that come with being a woman. Showcasing the vulnerability and candour of an artist ten years’ her senior, Holgate muses on her conflicting desires for both independence and love, before dissecting the oft-restrictive vision of what a feminist should look like.
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“I’ve tried to be the good girl and I’ve let my hair grow out,” she coos in the opening lines, “I am a fan of freedom, but I still believe in the one.”
Later, Holgate contemplates her supposed shortcomings as a woman, from refusing to be interrupted by men to her occasional “wish that I was someone else.”
So vulnerable is Hollgate’s songwriting — reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers and Julia Jacklin — that you might’ve seen it scribbled in the pages of her own diary, and the singer continues to bear her soul by inviting us on her journey of understanding her role in the world.
To squeeze such heady topics within the confines of a shimmering pop gem is no small feat, but Holgate is assisted by A Good Feminist’s producer, Xavier Dunn, who has elsewhere worked with the likes of Peking Duk, Jack River, Set Mo and GRAACE.
Evidently, Dunn is also in good hands with Holgate, who marks her arrival with incisive storytelling and an undeniable ear for crafting catchy indie-pop hooks.
Listen to Haley Holgate’s debut single A Good Feminist below, and keep an eye out for the accompanying music video to be released later this month.