Friday, September 18, 2009

The West Georgian: Review of the new Vivian Girls LP

Artist: The Vivian Girls
Title: Everything Goes Wrong
Label: In The Red Records
Release date: Sept. 8, 2009

The Vivian Girls faced a tough task when they entered the studio in March with the likely intent to record a batch of songs as solid as the ones on their 2008 debut album. The likely mission was accomplished with “Everything Goes Wrong,” which was released Sept. 8 by In The Red Records.

For those who are not familiar with the band, it’s three girls mixing the shoegazing and twee-pop sounds of the U.K., harmonies from East Coast legends The Beach Boys and the indie rock sounds emanating from Brooklyn, their hometown.

The album begins with “Walking Home At Night,” a nice display of the band’s trademark harmonies and Ali Koehler’s solid drumming, which often is the glue that keeps Vivian Girls songs together.

“I Have No Fun,” which has been in the band’s live arsenal for at least a year now, has nice harmonies, too, though one voice takes off during the chorus and leaves the other two in the dust.

The simplistic “Can’t Get Over You” follows a catchy hook with an equally catchy riff and then slips into the closest thing to a guitar solo you are going to get from this type of band. It also breaks the three-minute barrier, which was almost as daring a move as the before-mentioned guitar solo.

Jaws will drop over the guitar work that begins “The Desert.” This hopefully will cause reviewers who have the sexist notion that these girls “struggle with their instruments” to open their minds to how good this band can be.

Can these girls make a song called “Tension” beautiful? Of course they can. They already had pretty songs called “Damaged” and “I Believe in Nothing,” so this lovely slice of cynicism should come as no surprise.

The band continues to alter their sound without changing it with the upbeat “Survival,” which is mellow until torrential drumming signals its end.

“The End” resembles “Tell The World” from the first album, as it is slow and deliberate and is highlighted by those Beach Boys harmonies that set The Vivian Girls apart from other shoegazers. Lots of punk bands are guilty of repackaging old songs without adding anything new to their repertoire, but The Vivian Girls have proven they can use the blueprint of an old song and crank out something that sounds fresh and new.

The next couple of songs, “When I’m Gone” and “Out For The Sun”, sound like road trip music for some reason, and while listening to them you can imagine looking out the window and seeing the sites as your tour van rolls down an Arizona highway. The latter is the best song on the whole album, and it features another out of left field guitar solo.

“I’m Not Asleep” ironically sounds like it’s from a dream world, and the constant repeating of “I’m still awake” seems to be the girls’ way of reminding themselves that whatever event or emotion inspired this song was real.

The traceable amount of country and western influence in “Double Vision” is a welcome surprise and a nice addition to the band’s sound.

“You’re My Guy” is the type of song that’s pretty when you first hear it, and then you listen to it a second time and actually pick up on the lyrics, which are not fit to print in this publication.

The closer, “Before I Start To Cry,” is a slow tune with decipherable lyrics. I kept waiting for the band to kick it into high gear or at least say something weird or vulgar, but this is a genuinely sweet song and a nice ending to one of the best albums of 2009.

This is an amazing album. Don’t be surprised if most of your record collection will suddenly sound second rate once you’ve digested this one.

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