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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Girls – Album – A review

Welcome to the hopeless nu-romantics!

Written by Katie Weatherall

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In this oversaturated music world, visit you just have to turn your back for one minute and the band that has caught your aural interest lately have multiplied into twenty-seven acts churning out a similar chime. With this never-ending stream of new bands emerging and hungry for an audience, a band with a bit of a story is a music journalist’s dream. Gone are the days where I can rate a band purely on the basis of their musical output, I want more than that. I need edge.

Hence, I once read that one of San Francisco duo Girls, singer and songwriter Christopher Owens, grew up in a cult and that has kept them within my radar ever since. So when their debut album lands on my desk, my appetite to sample it is insatiable. My excitement was so much so, that I was half expecting the same disappointment I got when I naively counted down the days until The Strokes‘ second album release only to have my room not set on fire. Or when I heard the rumours that Mutya Buena wouldn’t be the last Sugababe to walk.

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Alas, with Album, Girls have produced something even better than I had built it up to be. Maybe I am keeping their cult-reared background and talk of a drug past and present (not to be condoned obviously) in my mind’s eye upon listening, but this debut is an altogether beautifully alluring sound.

Not exactly the dirge you’d expect from a pair of Californian stoners, Owens sings like a wanton Elvis Costello. The sound of guitar riffs like they are being amplified through the exhaust pipe of a tractor are present however, in tracks like Summertime. It’s rare that I’d use this as a compliment, but the tracks go on too long. In fact, with 12 songs, album is two tracks over the archetypically perfect amount, but this doesn’t detract from its beauty. The sprawling, imperfect tracks are this band’s appeal. There’s no hit factory producer here. Girls recorded most of the album in rehearsals on broken equipment.

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From the offset, they have me caught up in their rough-around-the-edges interpretation of a Beach Boys Californian 60s garage pop. Big Bad Mother Fucker airs as an ode Pet Sounds complete with “shoo wop” BVs. There is a hopeless romanticism throughout as the vocals cry out to various females – Laura and Lauren Marie to name two – their feelings of inadequacy and resentment. It’s not surprising to learn that most of the album was penned by Owens about a particularly painful break-up. Hear him sing mockingly in Lust For Life, “I wish I had a boyfriend/I wish I had a loving man in my life.” After listening to the sonic reference to the 80s ballads of Spandau Ballet in Headache it dawns on me that with Girls we are seeing the emergence of yet another regurgitated genre. Behold the nu-romantics.

If I turn my back for one minute, Girls will most probably be fronting an army of nu-romantics. In this millisecond of music history though, let’s just enjoy Girls.

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