Album review: Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost

With an album as widely praised as Father, Son, Holy Ghost, adding something meaningful to the swath of critical admiration is a daunting task to say the least. Echoing the sentiment of critics, well, everywhere, Girls' second full-length is a damn good one, not only for the band, but for every free love, horn rimmed glasses-era fixated band on the map right now.

Bygone-era inspiration is no stranger to the indie game. The "The" movement (The Strokes, The Hives, The Vines) of the early 2000's struck a mineral deposit rich with the quick ire and fuzzy angst of 60s garage rock. Granted, most of it was schlock, tasteless replication, like bands just hung up their parents' vinyl collections, threw a dart, and decided to be version 2.0 of whatever album they struck.

Father, Son, Holy Ghost really works as a past-ode album because it simply doesn’t try to be one. Girls have managed to craft a vaudeville show of a record, changing sonic wardrobes from track to track with an effortless consciousness that feels so ridiculously innocent and uncalculated it's hard not to root for them.

The bong-ripping power lead of "Die" is nestled between the airy, Cranberries-minded "Alex" and "Saying I Love You" seems to be ripped straight from a reel-to-reel recording from the Decca vault. It's strange because Father, Son comes off as a wholly mom-palatable record with a casual half-listen, yet bears the brash honesty of a wounded, prolific soul.

The album finds frontman Chris Owens grappling with present and past insecurities, yet finding sustenance on crumbs of optimism that paint him as a way-more-than one-dimensional mouthpiece for Girls.

Lead single "Vomit" is likely the lowest of the low on the record. It's Owens unabashedly bathing in a noxious, junkie-like need for love and nurturing outside himself over a somber guitar pick line. "Nights I spend alone / I spend 'em runnin' 'round" he repeats twice before erupting into a chord progression rife with background singers that conjures a sense of Pink Floyd balladry.

"My Ma" is all the more amplified by Owens' back-story. Born into, then escaping from the Children of God cult at 16, his childhood is relatable to a hundredth of a percentile of us out there, yet "My Ma" carries an air of existential dead weight stemmed from a loss of motherly guidance that’s pretty damn riveting nonetheless.

"Forgiveness" and the subsequent "Love Like A River" work as beacons (well, as beacon-y as Owens gets) you almost find yourself craving after the cold melancholy of Father, Son’s middle section.

Hearing Owens suture his emotional wounds in real time amid the sparse, sonic landscape of "Forgiveness" is such a pure, entirely understandable experience that it's frankly quite fucking hard to analyze it from a wholly objective, critical standpoint, whatever that is.

Father, Son, Holy Ghost, for all its strange, sad facets, is a comforting record. All 11 tracks are unadulterated pop in every sense of the word, given the "pop" label is largely era-dependent. That is, I think, the beauty of it, though; Chris Owens crafted a record that brazenly throws the notion of aesthetic specificity out the window, yet still manages to hit hard and resonate deep like any great art should. (True Panther Sounds)

5 Stars

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