Back in 2008, while singer/songwriter Christopher Owens was still playing in Ariel Pink's band Holy Fuck, his new project Girls took root, jump-starting a portion of the Bay Area music scene that was recreating a 50's style of rock, combining elements of doo-wop, surf, and rockabilly. Partially because they were one of the first and mostly because they did it best, the guitars had pitch perfect tremolo and Owens nasally, but evocative, voice had just the right amount of reverb added to it, Girls were the poster child of the scene. Many bands, whose sound is so inherently tied to genre imitation and nostalgia, have trouble discovering their own sound, something that Girls seem to be striving for on their new release. The production is much more polished on Father, Son, Holy Ghost and the band is now taking forays into extended jams, with some fiery guitar solos. They also throw more pastoral musical interludes with acoustic finger picking into the mix. However, the strongest part of Girls sound, Owen's voice, is buried in the mix on several songs. The opening track, "Honey Bunny", allows listeners a safe place to settle in, with an extension of the Buddy Holly type ditties offered up on the debut record Album. Then Owens and his writing mate, Chet White, hit you with their new sound. "Alex" is standard head-bobbing indie fare, verses punctuated by well-trod electric guitar fills with an acoustic bridge breakdown followed by a triumphant guitar burst. "Die" resembles any number of stoner rock dirges, Black Mountain especially comes to mind. "Myma" bears an eerie resemblance to the Cat Power song "The Greatest". The most rewarding track on the record, "How Can I Say I Love You", a winking nod to The Everly Brothers that was written a couple years back but just now received proper recording treatment, is an earnest mid-tempo ballad, a jangle of three chords and start-stops with an irresistible guitar solo. The album succeeds when Owens mines territory explored on their previous release, while the more roots oriented, organ-tinged songs seem to lack the cohesion and personal intensity of Album. I'm pretty confident, however, that the new direction will open up Girls appeal to a more mainstream audience. It won't help the purists who hung their hats on Girls, but it'll probably suit Owens and his crew just fine.
Buy this record if you're looking for something new but find the old to be true.