Gone are the fuzzy lo-fi sound, the two man group simplicity, and the snide yet tentative vocals from lead singer Christopher Owens, all of which made Girls’s first release, Album, so appealing. Girls is now a full fledged band with three new members, keyboardist Dan Eisenberg, guitarist John Anderson, and drummer Darren Weiss, filling out the sound. Inevitably this sophomore album is more textured. Taking advantage of a larger pool of musicians, bassist and producer, Chet JR White, has built eleven richly layered tracks, more streamlined than anything on the first album. Even Owens’ vocals are different, more confident and consistent. Simply put, Father, Son, Holy Ghost is a whole different animal.
What the group maintains on its second album is its delightful ability to pilfer from such frothy genres as 50’s pop-rock or retro beach-rock and yet create tracks that are gritty and unique. “Honey Bunny,” the album’s sunniest track, includes a recurring”Wipe Out” riff but updates the Beach Boys sound with lyrics about picking up girls who, “don’t like my skinny body, they don’t like my dirty hair, or the stuff that I say or the stuff that I’m on.” The song takes a turn for the sentimental on the bridge as Owens sings longingly about his relationship with his mother.
At the other end of the spectrum the album’s first single, “Vomit,” is dark and tempestuous, a study of an unhealthy relationship stretched out over six and a half minutes. From the soft and slow finger picking in the intro, the song builds to a climactic wall of sound with multiple guitar lines, organ, and even a gospel choir, contrasting with Owens voice which remains dramatically muted to a near whisper.
“Vomit” is one of a few tracks on the album to clock over five minutes but even the shorter tunes develop and change unexpectedly. It is this element of surprise in Girls’ music that makes the group so compelling. Listen to Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and every song may remind you of something you’ve heard before. At the same time you’ll somehow come away thinking you’ve never heard another album like it.
Also check out this awesome video for Honey Bunny