15 September 2009

Album Review?

I put a "?" in the title for this post because I'm not entirely certain that whatever follows will actually pass for being a music review,  but there's no harm in trying so hear it goes.

Girls is a band, who have drummed up quite a bit of noise on the internets over the last few months. I'm not sure if all credit is due to GorillaVsBear for the discovery, but nonetheless Girls are the type of band that GVB talks about on a regular basis. 
If you type "Girls" into any internet search engine, you will find very little about this band for obvious reasons. What can be determined for certain is that Christopher Owen is the life force for which this band flows through. He writes all the lyrics, and conceivably plays all the guitar parts. Oh, and he sings as well. On September 22, Girls will release Album, which is their first proper record. According to Matador Records, "Album is a redemptive song-cycle about the various characters and desires that color Christopher Owen's life." The phrase "song-cycle" may seem strange at the moment, but after listening to the album it makes a whole lot more sense. 
Girls ape heavily off a 60s vibe. The songs are refreshingly simple, and completely devoid of bullshit. On Album, it never sounds like the band is trying too hard but rather they are just trying to sing and play honestly. This record harkens back to a simpler time where music was music, and not something that was dissected and analyzed a thousand times over on the internet. Album sounds like it was recorded in an alternate universe, in a different dimension where never in a million years would a highly-successful hip hop artist storm an awards show stage to snatch the microphone out of the hands of America's sweetheart thereby soiling the poor girl's first experience at winning an award for a stellar music video. 
Some of the songs on this record have been floating about on the internets for quite some time now. "Hellhole Ratrace" was named as one of the 100 best songs of 2008 by Pitchfork, but its on this album as well and it is still a fantastic song about someone who more than likely needs someone to hang out with them as soon as they get their head straight. The album opener "Lust for Life" has been around for awhile as well, at least by the internets standards. This is a double-take song in the sense that the listener half-expects to hear a cover of Iggy Pop's song of the same name, but then soon realizes that this is certainly not that song. "Lust for Life" is a simple song about simple desires. Namely desires such as having a significant other, eating pizza, and drinking wine. 
The second track is entitled "Laura", though not to be confused with the ninth song on the album which is titled "Lauren Marie". It's the song cycle thing working its way through. Without having the disc playing, this whole notion of a "song cycle" is a bit hard to define. It's just that certain ideas and moods seem to return later on in the album. Some bands hit on a bevy of emotions, and then never return to any of them. Girls come back to what they were already talking about, and to hammer home their point the second time around they try to recreate the same sound elements that they used the first time. (Writer's Note: It's really cool.)  "Ghost Mouth" and "Hellhole Ratrace" could also be associated with the cyclical nature of the record, but the similarities between those two tracks are more incestuous then cyclical. The songs sound nearly identical during the verse parts, and its only during the chorus is there a slight chance that distinguishes the songs from one another. This isn't a bad thing though, and really ends up giving Album a warm, familiar feeling that seems to be lacking on most other records. 
There's also a track entitled "God Damned", and based on title alone one would think that this is some super intense, fierce song. It's not, as acoustic guitar strumming and lyrics that compare wanting and needing to drug abuse dominate the song. There's also a song called "Big Bad Mean Motherfucker", and in addition to being the shortest track on the record it also boasts some of the most blatant 60s era rock to be found on the entire album. There's "oooh, ooohs" in the background, and surf rock guitar riffs while the drums just don't quit. 
"Morning Light" will jump out to the listener for two reasons. The first one being the fact that it is a totally rad song, but also because it doesn't sound so much 60s as it kind of sounds like a song that Yo La Tengo would tack onto the end of one of their albums. 
The album closer "Darling" has a boozy, bluesy finish to it, but it's apart of the cycle as well. This song could very well be the album opener, or a song in the middle of the album. It could be placed anywhere, as long as it is on the record. 
For lack of a better way of saying it, this album is really terrific. It's an exciting take on "indie" and "alternative" music here in the year of 2009. It possesses an effortless cool, usually reserved for Lou Reed or The Dude. Quite possibly, the best new album to come out all year.

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