When Girls released Album two years ago, most reactions were incredibly supportive of their debut effort. It was a stunning indie rock album that avoided the complications flooding the genre at the time — it wasn’t soaked in reverb, the band seemed to understand when it was okay to let things quiet down for a few minutes, there was obvious passion involved — and as a result, it was named one of the top albums of 2009.
In November, Girls charged out with Broken Dreams Club, a six-song EP that saw the band moving in a forward direction, trying out a new feel while retaining the unique value of Christopher Owen’s vocal outlet and the relaxed mode that made Album a sonic joy.
Shift forward to 2011: In 8 days, the band’s second full-length effort, Father, Son, Holy Ghost hits shelves. It’s again the band moving in a forward direction, taking what they did with Broken Dreams Club, picking up the successes and weeding out the failures (or half-failures — it’s a very good EP) and adding a boost of excitement.
Now, that’s not to imply that it’s all fleet-footed and stunning — for example, the delicately named “Vomit” shows the band slowing things down more than they have before. But when it comes time to kick things into that higher gear, there’s no fear to be found. Where Album was at times daunting in its consistency, Father, Son, Holy Ghost takes a more varied approach.
Where instrumentation is concerned, there’s a clear inclination toward a strange country music melded with the San Francisco band’s indie rock sound. They’ve managed to combine that laid-back big-city feel with something a bit more rural, and while the sound is a little lacking in the refined quality you’d expect from others practicing an indie with country music aesthetic, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Girls.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost is what the band needed to do for their sophomore release. They’ve avoided staying dreadfully the same (though I’m not sure it would have provoked huge complaints) while treading some new ground as a band. It’s neither as raw nor as exciting as Album, but at the same time, it’s more musically engaging and interesting, and it’s proof that there’s more to Girls than a great album and an EP.