Debut ‘Album’ not redefinition of rock
Album – Girls
True Panther Sounds
By DJ Goof
San Francisco’s Girls combines the dreamy, surf-rock of the Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys with modern day lo-fi indie pop. The band’s debut album, titled “Album,” consists of relatively simply arranged songs that are quick to grow on you. The album paints a portrait of the young, free-spirited allure of San Francisco with lyrics touching on love, longing and drug addictions. Band member JR White’s production on the album creates an expanding departed atmosphere that is pulled back to earth by lead singer Christopher Owens’ direct lyrics. Owens’ lyrics roughly touch on his sad, incredible childhood.
Owens was born a follower of the Children of God cult. He spent most of his adolescent years alongside his mother and the cult drifting around foreign countries where he was exposed to prostitution while shielded from the outside world. Among an assortment of other rules, the children were only allowed to listen to music that was accepted by the cult’s elders. He was given his first guitar by Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer, also a member of the cult, and performed songs on the streets to raise money. At the age of 16, Owens saved up enough to flee his situation and move to Austin, Texas where he fell in with its post-punk music scene. Eventually, he found himself in San Francisco where he met White and Girls was born.
The album opens with “Lust for Life.” Here, bee-bop background vocals lay the foundation for Owens’ playful delivery of “I wish I had a father / Maybe then I would have turned out right.” This leads into “Laura,” an upbeat pop song that eventually opens up into a spacey jam of lead guitar and ambient vocal effects.
“Hellhole Ratrace” is a slow, genuine tune about pushing forward. Owens sings, “I don’t want to cry my whole life through / I want to do some dancing too / So come on and dance with me.” As the song progresses, distorted guitars and high pitch synthesizers rumble in as a backdrop but Owens’ tone remains cool and casual. The slight tension between the two keeps the song in focus for its near seven-minute length.
“Summertime” is another one of the gems that make up “Album.” Here, JR’s production offers layering effects that continually transform the song’s otherwise simple arrangement.
“Album” is not a redefinition of rock by any means. Instead, it is a perfectly packaged collection of familiar sounds and sincere themes that is sure to squeeze its way into a few top 10 lists before the year’s end.
88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published in every Thursday print edition of the Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.