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Girls has always been a bunch of sappy, lovelorn beach bums. Their 2009 full-length debut, Album, showcased the band’s ability to craft succinct pop jingles, sprawling emotional outbursts and fuzz-dipped goldenrod in the span of 12 songs. A year later, Girls is still doing the same thing—moping around with crisp arpeggios and whisper-chimed vocals.
Singer Christopher Owens’ troubled upbringing in the Children of God cult has become an essential ingredient in the band’s backstory. Owens feels, and feels deeply; he wants to be happy but he knows why he sometimes isn’t. The music builds on Owens’ sentiments, rising behind him with a euphony of slide guitars and tickled ivories.
“I just want to get high, but everyone keeps bringing me down,” he sings on the title track. And that’s how the record goes—ebbs and flows of emotion mingled with sappy love-pop. “Oh So Protective One” chimes like a ‘50s school-dance pop standard, complete with a horn section. “Substance” is a self-explanatory ode to a certain mood-altering chemical agent, washed over by sun-drenched California surf guitar waves.
Important to note is that Girls are about the self. Know yourself—know how you live, know how you love—and know your limits. “You can do anything, yeah, you can rock and roll,” Owens whisper-sings on the penultimate track before adding “…out of control.” If this bunch of mid-tempo sludge-pop is any indication, Girls aren’t exactly trying to rock out. But that’s alright—they know how to be sweet and charming about it.
Listen to "Heartbreaker":