Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting Into Girls.

It used to be kind of a *thing* that White Stripes only had two members. It was novel, right? Then came Black Keys, then the Kills, the Ting Tings, um, Tenacious D (does that count)? Anyway, is it lately starting to seem like duos are becoming more of a normal thing? Within a couple of days just this week, I’ve heard about three new 2-member bands: (1) Sleigh Bells; (2) Acrylics; and (3) Girls.

I like Girls. Girls are actually 2 boys whose band is called Girls, & their album is called: “Album.” Irony: I stumbled across them on the web, but it turns out they’re locally-grown, right here in our own San Francisco. Not that I get out enough to be in the know re: up-&-coming bands in my own backyard, but I’m working on that. Anyhoo, the buzz has officially commenced for Girls. I see them getting reviewed now on a bunch of blogs & on Pitchfork, but also Village Voice, & even NY Times is enthused.

So, I’m listening to “Album,” and I’m really thinking I could get into Girls. “Album was not recorded in any studio,” its liner notes proudly proclaim. Well, duh. Album was evidently recorded in bedrooms & wherever, & it more or less sounds like that. This is not a criticism. I have great fondness for the lo-fi, low-tech, DIY approach in general. Here, it’s actually a big part of why I’m really getting into Girls.

Here’s the thing: these boys in Girls are some truly great songwriters. No shit, they can really craft the pop hooks, like I find myself singing along to the 2nd chorus when it’s only the 1st time I’ve ever heard the song. So, yeah, it’s way catchy. So much so, that Album could easily have been just too saccharine & cute & pretty for its own good. I’m just saying. BUT, this is not the way of Album, no.

As written, the songs on Album are clean, i.e., unadorned, um *economical* maybe even. There’s no unnecessary explaining in the lyrics, there’s nothing extraneous in the chords. The songs, they are tight. But the *production* of Album takes an exactly opposite approach: the sound is cluttered with random effects & noises & colors. There’s lots of distortion, there’s lots of reverb, there are a lot of sonic layers muddying up these otherwise squeaky songs. Net effect? These very good Girls are getting good & dirty. Which, empirically, is just hot go ahead tell me I’m wrong.

Oh, & the arrangements are utterly unafraid of occasional excess. So while, on some songs, Girls get in & get out wham bam, on others they really take their time veering off on some exploratory tangent. So, e.g., Track 2 “Laura” is basically finished at 3:00 on the dot, but continues on for another 1:51 for no reason other than to groove on the chords, & noodle around a bit on the keyboard & the bass. & why the hell not? It’s a great song, & it’s just NICE to be able to savor it a little longer. I mean, what’s the hurry?

I see on their website that they’re going to be playing here at home very soon. Fri 11/20 at Swedish American Hall (I think that’s actually just part of CafĂ© du Nord, right?), and then the next night at Bottom of the Hill. I think I need to seriously check out Girls on one of those nights. Who’s in?

Here's a video, although it's not the best song on Album:

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