Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Release Date: Sep 13, 11
It’s borderline impossible to talk about Girls’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost without viewing it in the context of their breakthrough Album. Where that record hummed with a sort of jangling pop current (“jangling” is a decent buzzword here as well), Father takes the doe-eyed, innocent pop of “Lust For Life” in assorted new directions, most of them successful and all of them suggesting a new level of creative flourish for one of indie rock’s more exciting acts.
The opening gallop of “Honey Bunny” sets the tone for the two prevailing themes of the record: a heavy surf rock influence, and frontman Christopher Owens’ distant, airy vocals. Owens pushes just hard enough to avoid getting pulled into the riptide of songs like “Honey Bunny” and “Die,” the latter starting off with a surprisingly chunky riff that recalls Queens of the Stone Age before moving into an almost prog-like denouement. That heaviness, when it does rear its head, gives a sinister undercurrent to the record. “Vomit,” the first single, turns Owens’ “Nights I spend alone/I spend alone looking for you, baby” into a veiled threat with the slightest hint of violence, amplified by the orgiastic organ.
The second half of “Vomit” also points to the one notable problem with Father, that being a number of overlong or overplayed (or both) tracks. Near its end, the song loses some steam when its sinister nature gives way to a heavenly chorus and squelching organ; this is not as cathartic as it may sound on paper. “Just A Song” spends far too much time, at the expense of the record’s momentum, slowly building to the non-climax of “Love/It’s just a song.” “Forgiveness” has some of the same issues, but at least packs an ample payoff.
Father is at its best when it stands as a pure pop record. “Magic,” though a rather blatant slice of ’70s hippie-pop cheese, is ridiculously fun, and “My Ma” comes off like a Southern-fried take on “Where Is My Mind?” Then there’s “Alex,” which turns up the treble and the ’90s alt-rock recall as it builds to a wild-yet-controlled instrumental burst. At its best, Father has some of the most finely crafted pop you’ll hear this year, and even at its worst it has the feel of a band that’s only just begun.