Illustration from Vieille Chansons et Rondes Pour Les Petits Enfants by M.B. de Monvel, c. 1890
I don't think I ever got around to writing about Album, the 2009 debut by San Francisco band Girls - I know that I planned to at one point because I remember it being based on a comparison to the band Saturday Looks Good To Me. Interestingly, that comparison is no longer relevant because Girls are done indulging in that kind of suffocatingly gauzy '60s nostalgia. With Father, Son, Holy Ghost, they seem to be endorsing a different sort of classic-rock nostalgia - it's still there, but it's less obvious in the work as a whole (if more obvious in certain places.) The early-Beach-Boys sound of "Honey Bunny", the Pink Floyd dramatics of "Vomit", and the George Harrison guitar of "My Ma" are the most obvious culprits, but there are plenty of more contemporary influences (the Smiths-y lilt of "Alex" and the Grandaddy-referencing hook of "Just a Song" come to mind). And, overall, Father, Son, Holy Ghost is much more about the guitar riffs than Album - Chet "JR" White's leads provide the real "meat" of the album, with a much simpler approach to melody and lyrics being taken in some of the songs.
This is a good thing most of the time - the first half of Father, Son, Holy Ghost is made up of five concise guitar-pop songs, and the only one of these that doesn't work is "Die", which tries a little too hard to work the "muscular riffage" angle, and it's not a good fit. The second half of the album is dominated by three longer tracks (six-minutes plus), before ending with two stripped-down acoustic ballads. This structure works to the album's advantage, adding an interesting structure to the listening experience. Lastly, I think that Girls frontman/songwriter Christopher Owens sounds great on this record - a lot of people say that he has one of those love-it-or-hate-it voices, but I honestly don't hear it. Owens' voice is not entirely boring/generic, but I can't see it being the breaking point for any listener used to weedy indie-rock vocalists. And it's just right for the songs he's written this time around, delivering a touching vulnerability when it's called for and also providing a focused counterpoint to the guitar-work on the bigger numbers.
"Honey Bunny" by Girls