You may have read it all before you read this and I don’t mean to perpetuate a band’s back story. There’s often a fear that it may over shadow a whole album but, as we learned for one Bon Iver and his sublime For Emma, Forever Ago, if the record is strong enough the hype doesn’t really matter a jot.This more than true for Girls.
Skip the next paragraph if you don’t think so.
Girls front man Christopher Owens had a pretty messy up bringing. He was born into the infamous Children of God cult in the USA, his mother prostituted herself to support the family, his brother died because of the cults aversion to medical attention and he lived on the mean streets of San Fransisco before forming Girls with friend Chet White.
Its odd then that if you take the lyrics out of Girls debut album, Album (try googling that…) it sounds like the Beach Boys just had the best summer of their lives. Its chiming jingle jangle is a beautiful beautiful mess. Once you add Owens’ Elvis Costello like chirp to the mix it makes the perfect hinge of light and dark and the album takes on much a sadder tome.
I wish I had a suntan/ I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine he sings on short sharp opener “Lust for Life” before swiping his silly simple remark off the planet by following it with; Instead I’m just crazy / I’m fucked in the head. And despite all the shiny production and despite deadpan delivery and the fact that you’re bobbing your head like a lunatic, somewhere under there, you know, he really means it.
“Hellhole Ratrace” recalls The La’s jangling acoustic guitars and an almost bizare lo-fi Beatles production only with a constant ambient buzz that you’d miss if it wasn’t there. Owens voice ripples across octaves like the tremolo loving lead guitars and its nearly 7 minutes breeze by. Its a beautiful centerpiece which perhaps holds the records defining line… I don’t wanna cry my whole life through / I wanna do some laughing too / so come on and laugh with me…
It wouldn’t surprise you to know that most of the tracks on Album are about Girls. There’s a Lauren Marie and a Laura and they’re just the ladies that Owens name drops but Album by Girls is more than just an Album full of songs about Girls… er… yeah.
Its frankness is sometimes hilarious and often, despite the darkness of the lyrics amazingly good fun too. The band never wallow in it, never out live their welcome and avoid all emo cliche by simply telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There’s a beautiful heart breaking sincerity to it all. The only thing sadder for me was missing out on tickets to see them next week at the Hoxton Bar and Grill.
But as a listener it’s all of these contradictions, ups and downs and u turns in sound and theme that make Album not just a good LP, but potentiially a truly great one. It’s an amazing, mystifying and refreshing listen and behind all of the savage lines and the stories of lost loves there’s a summer album that has came out just at the right time… the end of summer.
Take a listen and you’ll know what I mean.