Release Date: Dec 2, 2014
Record label: Wichita
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Dividad are angry. The LA musicians' debut EP as Girlpool, out on Wichita, begins with the line "you leave me crying in the fucking rain" and doesn't get any less bitter, gritty or unapologetic from there. Every lyric that makes up these fleeting seven tracks is spat out with an intoxicating intensity by both women, and tackles a myriad of issues, from jealousy to sexism to slut-shaming to getting down to American Beauty, and work in contrast with the boppy, bass-led dual instrumentation.
Angry women who are not afraid to raise their voices often end up being described as shrill and screechy. Make no mistake here; Girlpool should be taken seriously. Their self-titled EP is a whirling tirade of pissed off and bratty lo-fi rock with a definite, focused agenda, and their critique is every bit as biting as every fuzzy barre chord. ‘Plant and Mouth’ plods and shimmers in equal measures, and Girlpool’s taken on a slow, forlorn ballad has discord right at the centre.
The radical power of simplicity is by no stretch a new musical concept; its lineage can be traced from The Shaggs through the Marine Girls and the output of K Records, the Washington label that made a virtue of pared-back expression in the 1980s. Joining that school are LA duo Girlpool, whose debut EP (released on Bandcamp before Wichita snapped them up) comprises just the caustic voices and twangs of guitarist Cleo Tucker and bassist Harmony Tividad. It’s easy to confuse simplicity with triteness, but the pair have a knack for magnetic and clearly considered ditties: ‘Blah Blah Blah’ and ‘Jane’ boast menacing basslines (and the latter a terrifying scream); ‘Paint Me Colors’ and ‘Plants And Worms’ are chiming bummer jams; while they sing in gorgeous, latticing acapella harmonies on ‘Slutmouth’.
Girlpool take an unusual but simple musical setup and craft a short, fun debut release out of it. The duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad use a guitar, a bass, and vocals. The lack of drums gives them an interesting sound; they bring to mind an angrier, socially conscious Kimya Dawson. Energetic opener “Blah Blah Blah” finds Girlpool dealing with a vacillating, emotionally distant significant other, often while singing in unison but not quite in tune.
Loads of good punk music thrives on turning underdevelopment into a virtue. This debut EP from teenage duo Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad succeeds on this front, in several ways at once: underdeveloped arrangements (they’re just guitar, bass and voice), underdeveloped structures (blink and you’ll miss the 30-second ‘Plants and Worms’) and still-developing emotions. Taken alongside each other, these half-formed impulses combine into a thrillingly intense rush of adolescent feeling, mixing current day LA punk trends with riot grrl traditions.
Girlpool isn’t looking for outside opinions. The L.A. duo’s music is personal, but stiff-upper-lipped; it’ll bait you, make you squirm, push you away and then hug you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Girlpool, the band’s debut EP, actually dropped many months ago on their ….