Girls - Album
Christopher Owens, whose affect-heavy (nearly Strummer-esque) vocals head up Girls, is a former member of the Children of God post-hippie Jesus movement cult. Beyond the heavily 60s influence on their new album Album that little tidbit fails illustrate much about him, or his music. Album is really more of a course on 1960s surf, alt, and psychedelic rock all created anew with the raspy, distorted weight of 21st century crassness. That is not to say that this is a sad bastard album, but for an album working in such lovey-dovey styles and genres, Girls do not dish out airy whimsy. They do more with pleas for happiness, and resignations about love. For an album with these influences, Album, takes the standards of "boy likes girl and wants to love her forever" and turns them toward more of a "boy likes girl, but now in the late 2000s, reciprocity is harder to acquire". The mash-up makes for compelling songs that have a catchy beat, but feel substantial. This is the Thanksgiving dinner of pop music, not some trivial snack.
Album feels lighter than it is. And that is a compliment. A huge one, really because it lacks the air of pretension that haunt so many 60s-style records. Girls aren't reinventing the songs, the ideas or the music, they are imprinting each with the darker intelligence of a world that has seen so much since 1970 rolled in. "Lust for Life" opens the record with the sort of hoarse, lyrical cries that indicate experience. From there, the pace, feel and power oscillates, touching the grinding poppy surf-rock and dreamy, drug-touched sounds of pre-post-Brian Wilson late Beach Boys (Not Kokomo! No.)
Beyond the sound, for an album called Album, the liner notes included have only the songs names, one on each page, with photos of women (girls) in the background. It feels like the photo album included is meant for consumption alongside the music, perhaps to paint a larger, clearer picture about to whom each song is intended. That sort of connection, though manufactured, gives Album the ability to act as a pop record and a friendly conversation. It's intimacy. Owens and his heart feel more genuinely on display, and the artworks that touch us most are those with that ability to converse with us. Album isn't music just to hear, it is music in conversation. And that's what makes it such a gift to listeners, and to the 60s genres to which it pays homage.
Really great tracks (because they're all good): "Laura," "Hellhole Ratrace," and "Summertime"
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