Recording information: San Francisco, CA (2008); Santa Cruz, CA (2008).
Photographer: Sandy Kim.
Girls were yet another indie pop band heralded in by a snowstorm of Internet praise, in this case largely the result of three brilliantly shot heroin chic videos for "Hellhole Ratrace," "God Damned," and "Lust for Life," but their 2009 album, simply titled ALBUM, actually proved itself worthy of the hype upon its release. The two free-spirited San Francisco burnouts JR White and Christopher Owens (one appearing relatively clean-cut, the other greasy-haired and disheveled) go for the Mellow Gold with their take on D.I.Y. California pop. Where the similarly blog-touted Wavves offered a pill-popping, pot-fueled skater's perspective on fun in the sun, Girls offer up a similarly thrifty, drug-addled ode to the warm climate, but filtered through a pair of green-tinted hippie shades. In their brand of lo-fi, they opt to go against the momentary trend of recording in the red and instead utilize an earthy approach, with clean Ariel Pink guitar twang and Spiritualized psychedelic reverb. White plays the producer role, acting as a fly on the wall at times, and at others layering shoegaze swells to fill the backdrop of Owens' minimalistic, squeaky-voiced guitar ballads. Simplicity is Girls' ally, as is the duo's knack for keen Beach Boys melodies. As a whole, everything's relaxed and dreamy, perfectly matching the '70s aesthetic of their videos.
Rolling Stone (p.105) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[With] gorgeous songs that range from Buddy Holly-style rock to prom balladry to the strummy epic 'Hellhole Ratrace.'"
Spin (p.33) - Ranked #5 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2009" -- "[A] dazzling debut that hazily evokes 1959 without the greaser-kitsch baggage."
Entertainment Weekly (p.104) - Included in Entertainment Weekly's 'The Best Albums of 2009' -- "ALBUM is a shambolic tribute to the enduring spark of basement-bred rock & roll..."
CMJ - "[W]hile 'Goddamn''s hedonistic verses carry trace inflections of the Thin White Duke, 'Hellhole Rat Race' bears a far more somber Costello-esque vocal."
Billboard (p.36) - "[T]he duo manages to make sweet pop music devoid of cynicism."
Q (Magazine) (p.111) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The abiding mood is of boy-next-door heartache, while the songwriting draws heavily on bigwigs such as Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson..."
Clash (magazine) - "[T]heir music is jam-packed full of laid back melodies and psychedelic wanderings under pinned with classic hooks."
Uncut (magazine) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "ALBUM lurches bizarrely from the heart-rending to the goofy to the simply spaced-out, but what it lacks in polish it makes up for with buckets of charm."