I’ve listened to San Francisco duo Girls’ most recent release Father, Son, Holy Ghost about five times all the way through now and I still have no words that could do it justice. It’s an incredible piece of work–a developmental masterpiece. When they first hit the scene with their debut Album, there was something woefully sardonic about them. Love-worn and tired. Achingly yearning. Their followup EP Broken Dreams Club showed linear development. To be honest, it was depressing. It felt like a kick in the gut. Frontman Christopher Owens’ jaded vocals could launch you through several layers of emotion to the point where you feel hollowed afterwards. It could invoke this ineffable sadness for something you haven’t even experienced. That ability alone is powerful.
Only months following the release of Broken Dreams Club, Girls appears to have moved out of the love-wrought haze of their earlier works, but without forgetting where they came from. They’ve developed immensely from the delicately jangly indie beats they were rocking two years ago. They’ve lived, they’ve survived and they are sharing a testament in a way. It’s refreshingly optimistic, especially coming from guys that sang the lyrics: “So many people live and die/And never even question why/All of their dreams are gone/How can they carry on?” and “I just want to get high/But everything keeps bringing me down/If you know something I don’t/Come on and help me out/But I just don’t understand/How the world keeps going nowhere.”
The album opens with the galloping melody of “Honey Bunny,” an “awww”-inspiring jam about a love not yet found. The lyrics, “I know you’re somewhere/And nothing’s gonna phase me/You’ll look at me and know I’m the one/And you will love me” contrast brilliantly with those of the aforementioned EP. It sets a pace for the rest of the album, turning over to the yearningly mellow “Alex.” As the album rolls on, it puts to display an eclectic handful of influence, predominantly that of classic rock. At times it sounds like Wolfmother while at other times it recalls the Beatles. Influence, however, is overshadowed by their musical mastery. They have their own distinct sound, a certain Girls-ness that will prevent them from ever being confused with anyone else. Most importantly, that unique quality is what helps them get away with putting so many cliches to music. It’s what makes them identifiable. Honestly, only Girls could take a 6 minute stalker ballad (“Vomit”) and turn it into something universal. They possess this intimacy that makes you feel like you’ve lived next door to them for years and witnessed their pain first hand. And it feels good to see them climbing out of their rut. It’s an upward swing that leaves you with a feeling of fulfillment rather than emptiness. True enough, they’re still searching for something and there’s just enough of an over-the-top factor that prevents them from sounding contrived. I can’t wait to hear what’s next from them. This, however, will be a record to remember.