Gal Pal have shared the dissonant second single off their new album This and Other Gestures (out June 2nd). “Takes Time” is a whirlwind “song about change really, how it’s inevitable and how empowering it can be to lean into that.” The album is their first in 6 years, and finds the trio of Emelia Austin (she/her), Shayna Hahn (she/her) and Nico Romero (he/him) in their mid-twenties and at the height of their personal and collective power, working through gender dysphoria, personal loss, and the confusion of young adulthood. The commitment they’ve made, to themselves and to each other, has allowed the members of Gal Pal to arrive where they are today — always in-process, but more self-assured than ever before.
Gal Pal recorded their debut album GIRLISH (2017) while still in college and then moved back to the Los Angeles area from which they all hail. They’ve performed near-ceaselessly since, opening for bands like Pile, Ian Sweet, Palehound, and Momma. The songs on GIRLISH and subsequent EP Unrest/Unfeeling (2019) were written as Gal Pal began — all three in a room, switching instruments spontaneously, trading riffs and rhythms until the sense of wonder emerged, eyes met, and something stuck. This energy is palpable in the music — songs expand over multiple movements, time signatures shift in a blink, guitar riffs interlock as if dueling.
On This and Other Gestures, Austin, Hahn, and Romero experimented for the first time with writing in isolation, crafting songs with words all their own before bringing them to the group. The result is a sprawling 14-track record that explores the friction of newly-minted adulthood through each of their individual experiences and sees the members of Gal Pal at the height of their personal and collective power.
While no two people have the same experience of their 20’s, it’s almost universally true that these years feel like a powder keg of transformational material. It’s this lustrous and, at times, uneasy sense of metamorphosis that Gal Pal captures with such specificity on Gestures. “These songs are very personal to us,” reflects Austin. “We’re telling stories about different things — life, death, love, grief — all these things we’re going through and growing out of. These songs are about us processing change. Is it good, is it bad? We’re grieving, we’re celebrating.”
The duality of grief and celebration that permeates the record is at its core the nature of change. Stepping into a new version requires saying goodbye to a past one, and each member of Gal Pal has experienced this simultaneously painful and euphoric tearing-in-two over the past few years. We bear witness to the grief of Romero’s gender dysphoria alongside the fresh and emergent joy of his transition. We hear Hahn’s searing pain over losing a friend, alongside her reckonings with the importance of community care. We encounter Austin’s dissonance at realizing she’s let the wrong relationships shape her identity, alongside the reminder that self-acceptance is within reach. These are their hard-earned lessons and Gestures is the gift of their struggles — an encapsulation of the resilience that’s molding their future selves.
Photo Courtesy: Ry Essi