Thank heaven for Girls with Father, Son, Holy Ghost
- Sep 21, 2011
Summer is coming to an end, and the air is thick with heartbreak in beach slacker duo Girls’ excellent album, ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’.
Things kick off in heady fashion with the doe-eyed ‘Honey Bunny’, a blissed-out, sugary pop stomper that is catchier than an STI in a brothel. Bursting with feel-good guitar and harmonies pitched somewhere between Belle & Sebastian and classic 50s and 60s vibes it’s truly irresistible – like it or not, you will find yourself singing along with that chorus as singer Christopher Owens bemoans ‘They don’t like my bony body/ They don’t like my dirty hair’.
So far, so smiley, but Girls clearly see ‘Father, Son, Holy Ghost’ as a chance to fine-tune their existing sound while simultaneously expanding their ambitions. While still being very much guitar-driven, they demonstrate a magnetic knack for different moods and textures over the course of the album, creating an experiment in effervescent, traditional pop that is frequently charming and fizzes with life.
Schizoid third track ‘Die’ is a good example – classic rock stylings a la Wolfmother (in a good way) suddenly morph into a punked-up chorus, before it all goes a bit folky with a ‘Stairway To Heaven’-inspired closing passage, replete with flute/synth. While not the best song on the album, it’s a testament to the band’s evident talent for dabbling in different reservoirs of noise and consistently dredging up something decent.
Album centrepiece ‘Vomit’ is another stellar entry, and one that pulls a similar trick to Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ – initially a moody, introspective dirge, it gradually mutates into an anthemic, Hammond-soaked mini epic. The collision of gorgeous fuzzbox guitar and orgasmic gospel at the close is nothing short of wonderful.
On occasion, however, that tightrope between the happy-clappy and the exploratory unravels; ‘How Can I Say I Love You’ is four minutes of saccharine overkill that chokes on its own cheese, while the beautiful classical fingerpicking that punctuates ‘Just A Song’ is scuppered by monotony.
Elsewhere, despite showing off some magnificent guitar-work, ‘Love, Like A River’ comes across like ‘Vomit’s sickly sibling, and while pleasant enough fails to repeat the endorphin-charged ebb of its predecessor.
In fact, the final movement of ‘FSHG’ is largely disappointing compared with earlier highs - but even then there are always moments of brilliance. ‘Forgiveness’ is unremarkable until it becomes a psychedelic wig-out at the end, while ‘Magic’ manages to be endearing while again exuding a distinct whiff of gorgonzola.
While they may not be charting new musical territory here, there is an undeniable charm to Girls and their music that makes their less successful moments wholly forgivable. They know exactly what they’re doing on ‘FSHG’ and always give themselves the space to do it; overall this is a record swelling with enough big, heartfelt pop hooks and ideas to leave you helplessly intoxicated.