Gal Pal have shared “Pleasures,” the lush and widescreen third single off their new album This and Other Gestures (out June 2nd). The record 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 three frequently trade off vocal duties, and Romero leads on the deeply personal new single, explaining “My transhood was always about staying alive. What could I do and be in order to see a future for myself. Before testosterone and top surgery, simple pleasures of living, like showers, sleep, intimacy, rest, any reminder of being in a body made me feel sick. One of the first changes I noticed came when I thought, ‘wow I really look like my brothers and my dad.’ These people in my life that have represented different forms of masculinity and access to ‘manhood’, I wondered the most if they saw me, would they see me in their world, as their brother and son. Baseball’s presence in this track is for my dad and our relationship, but it also represents the triumph of winning your fight. At its end, this song is an ode to transness and in that, an ode to staying alive.”
On This and Other Gestures, though, Gal Pal altered their process. Now all in their mid-twenties, 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: Carly Rene Hough