Tag Archives: Girls

Girls ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ – Review

19 Sep

There is a great contradiction between the band Girls want to be and the band they are. They want to be accepted by the mainstream, they want to be ‘normal’; their songs have classic production, classic chord progressions and classic melodies. Lyrically they deal with traditional pop fodder – broken hearts and loneliness. On their debut they ate up old and accepted genres at a manic rate, whether it was shoegaze (‘Morning Light’) surf rock (‘Big Bad Mean Motherf**cker’), country (‘Hellhole Ratrace’) or baroque pop (‘Lauren Marie’). It was as if they were on a quest to find a suitable and loving home. Google the name of their debut and it will be a while before you find what you want – better still try googling their band name –  impossible! Everything they do points to a band that wants to fade into the background, that wants to be accepted. Their desire of normality is understandable, but unfortunately for them everything to do with Girls is abnormal. Everything from singer Christopher Owens back story (he was raised in a cult by a mother who prostituted herself, then spiraled into hardcore drug addiction, before being rescued by a famous country singer – y’know, not really ‘the usual’), to their amazing, amazing music displays a band who are anything but normal. For all their flaws, perhaps because of all their flaws, they are a very special band indeed.

And a very productive one – ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ is their third album in as many years (if you’re including the 6 track ‘Broken Dreams Club’) and the next two are apparently ready to go. But this is only fitting of a band whose heart belongs in another era. When they arrived with ‘Lust For Life’, and one of the most arresting opening lines of recent times (‘I wish I had a boyfriend…’) Girls appeared to be as punk, cool and cutting edge as any new band I could think of. Their debut confirmed this; no attention was really payed to production values, censoring lyrics,  hiding the drug references or keeping songs to a traditional length; but at its heart ‘Album’ was steeped in pop history and every song recalled a different one of my favourite groups and genres. They cleaned up their act for ‘Broken Dreams Club’ and this new album is even more polished and radio ready. It’s still individual and they still do things completely their own way, but overall this is a more traditional sounding album, one less willing to shock or agitate.

I’m not sure how I really feel about this – they aren’t as subversive or as interesting as they were in 2009, but at the same time the songwriting has improved ten-fold, the production is now note perfect, and most notably, Owens is now a much, much better singer. On album stand out ‘Jamie Marie’, a beautiful song in which he pours his heart out over some lovely guitar playing, his voice is able to sell the simple lyrics, and despite the minimal musical acompliment it’s a truly captivating song. Occasionally the flaws of his voice grate, but rather than rely on his own set of pipes all the time he is now often helped out by gospel backing singers. ‘Vomit’ is one of a few tracks that progresses into an organ led, gospel freak out towards its climax. Like many songs on ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’, ‘Vomit’ is epic to the point of indulgence, repetitive to the point of irritation and melodramatic to the point of narcissism. The fact that Girls are able to pull it off despite its obvious flaws proves just how endearing they have become.

Owens’ two best traits as a songwriter are his honesty and his personality. His statements are to the point, and simple in a childlike way; they aren’t as striking as they once were, but his individuality still shines through. On ‘Forgiveness’ he sings about his troubled relationship with his family when he says ‘I’ll have to forgive you, if we’re ever gonna move on.’ A couple of the other songs also deal with his family relationships, most notably ‘My Ma’ and the bubbly opener ‘Honey Boney’ in which Owens remembers being loved by his mother as a child, and longs for a future where he is loved by somebody else with as much conviction.

Aside from the stark naked emotional content, my next favourite thing about Girls, and particularly this album, is their astonishing attention to detail. Check out the carpenters-esque fuzztone guitar solo on ‘My Ma’ that comes EXACTLY where you want to. Check out how PERFECT the thrash riff on ‘Die’ is, so perfect you’ll swear you’ve heard it somewhere before, but haven’t. Check out the pauses for breath in ‘Love Like a River’, the string arrangement in ‘Just a Song’ and the country guitar harmonising in ‘Magic’. Girls simply know their stuff, their references are immaculate and yet they always deliver their songs with just enough originality and personality to not come across as blatant musical thieves. With anyone else it would be called, at best homage, at worst pastiche (maybe even parody), but with Girls they it just comes across as natural and honest.

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Owens told the interviewer that he approached Justin Beiber to become the new singer for the band. He claimed that he would be happy to write songs for the teen popstar whilst he himself faded into the background. He also swore that if Beyonce covered and released ‘Love Like a River’ as a single it would become a number one hit. Girls mainstream ambitions are admirable enough, and there is no reason my ‘Love Like a River’ shouldn’t be a big hit, but Girls make these songs great in a way that Beyonce or Beiber couldn’t. Yes, they are traditional, well crafted songs in many respects, but the aspects that make them stand out are the oddities, the attention to detail and the glimpses of real-life personality that mainstream stars like Justin Beaver just couldn’t convey. Girls sell these songs with complete and utter conviction – few other contemporary bands are as overflowing with such charisma and charm, and worryingly for their rivals they show now sign of slowing down. And as good ‘As Father, Son, Holy Ghost is’ there are still plenty of signs that Girls are improving and developing all the time – I wouldn’t be surprised if their best is still to come.


New From Girls ‘Honey Bunney’

23 Aug

Taken from their forthcoming album ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’.

New from Girls and Dum Dum Girls

20 Jul

It’s been a good couple of weeks for old bands returning with new music;  today, Girls (one of my favourite groups of recent years) have unvield a song from their new album ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’, which is out in September. Over at onethirtybpm you can hear the song, the rather off-puttingly titled ‘Vomit’. Here is the Link http://onethirtybpm.com/media/mp3-girls-vomit/

Also this week, Dum Dum Girls have previewed a song from their second album ‘Only In Dreams’. The track is called ‘Coming Down’ and it can be heard below.

Funny to think that both of these bands used to drench their songs in distortion and feedback, these new ones are very polished and presentable. Have they lost some charm as a result?

News News News

7 Jul

First off, Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines have released new music videos this week which you can view below.

Girls made one of 2009’s best albums (‘Album’) and one of 2010’s best mini-albums (‘Broken Dreams Club’) and this september they will be looking to make it a hat-trick when they release their third album ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost.’ The tracklisting and cover art is below.

1. Honey Bunny
2. Alex
3. Die
4. Saying I Love You
5. My Ma
6. Vomit
7. Just A Song
8. Magic
9. Forgiveness
10. Love Like A River
11. Jamie Marie

Also this week, Noel Gallagher has finally released details about his long-awaited solo album, which we now know will be called ‘Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’. You can watch the press conference and view the album details over at NME.

Girls ‘Broken Dreams Club’ – Review

18 Nov

Girls were one of the breakthrough acts of 2009, and they have spent this year touring non-stop and getting more and more popular in the process. Now they are releasing ‘Broken Dreams Club’ a mini album designed to bridge the gap between the first record and album number two. It rounds up some of the more prominent unreleased songs that Girls have been playing live over the past year or so and at least half of this material will be familiar to fans of the band – I heard ‘Substance’ before I had even heard their debut, and bootlegs of ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Broken Dreams Club’ have been doing the rounds online for a while. Whilst the song choice is not surprising, there are some surprises in how these songs have been recorded and mixed. Girls indulgent tendencies (which sometimes frustrated on the debut) have been reined in a bit more here and what they have produced is a tight and well-edited record.

The production on ‘Album’ was very inconsistent which was part of the charm in many ways, but the band insisted it was down to practicality and money rather than choice. Tracks like ‘Laura’ and ‘Lust For Life’ were highly polished whilst others including ‘God Dammed’ were recorded in a ramshackle, lo-fi manner and ‘Morning Light’ was produced like a shoegaze song gone mental. Here there is no such variety, all of the songs sound very clean and there is a cohesion to this record that shows great progression for the band. ‘Heartbreaker’ in particular sounds like the type of song they were always trying to make but never quite could. But a tiny bit of the band’s individuality may have been lost as a result.

‘Album’ opened with the line ‘I wish I had a boyfriend, I wish I had a loving man in my life’ and all twelve songs were infused with this kind of candor and personality, but there is nothing really as striking on this release. ‘Broken Dreams Club’, ‘Alright’ and ‘The Oh So Protective One’ are flawless musically but they steer very close to predictability.  ‘Heartbreaker’ is slightly more interesting lyrically with some brilliant lines (‘I’ve still got a lock of your hair’ is particularly enjoyable) and ‘Substance’ is about Owen’s much written about interest in drugs. He tackles the subject with an honesty that is pretty much unheard of in pop music, especially when the lyrics go hand in hand with such an old-fashioned melody.

The album closes with ‘Carolina’, a grungy, effects driven ode to love and home. This is more like the band that made ‘Album’, it pulls off that trick of being strange and familiar at the same time. The long droning introduction should be boring but instead it draws you in and then shakes you senseless with the melody that erupts halfway through.

‘Broken Dreams Club’ is a nice bridge between ‘Album’ and whatever comes next. In most ways this ‘mini’ album shows progression, at least in terms of production and songwriting, and it isn’t overly worrying that there isn’t anything to quite match the best songs from ‘Album’ (although ‘Heartbreaker’ comes pretty damn close). For a band that write mainly about one thing (heartbreak) you never feel like Girls are repeating themselves, even though they often are. The band spin subjects on their head and ‘Broken Dreams Club’ is a disorienting but comforting listen that sounds old and new all at once. I can’t wait to see what comes next.