Release Date: Nov 22, 2010
Record label: True Panther Sounds
Genre(s): Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Pop
"I will never get over you/I've still got a lock of your hair," sings Christopher Owens, sounding like someone put a cigarette out on his heart. Owens' ability to turn that kind of longing into killer psych-pop hooks made Girls' 2009 debut so lovable. This EP homes in on a narrow spectrum — songs about loss, loneliness and drug-induced apathy. But Girls build elaborately arranged cuts like "Alright," and they toss in pedal steel and mariachi horns without losing spazzy energy.
Just three weeks ago, when Girls announced the release of Broken Dreams Club, they also shared a sprawling, handwritten note penned by frontman Christopher Owens. On stationery flipped upside down, Owens scribbled enthusiastically that this EP was their (timely) way of giving thanks to listeners who've showered the San Francisco duo with love and support since Album, their lemons-to-lemonade debut, which arrived last September. While insisting that his band's latest isn't the sound of them "all grown up," he described the six songs enclosed as a "LETTER OF INTENT," a "SNAPSHOT OF THE HORIZON," and a "step up" from its stunning predecessor.
The new EP from San Francisco’s Girls’ may be titled Broken Dreams Club, but the one thing breaking all over this record is hearts. Little girl hearts, grown man hearts—none are spared here, but frontman Christopher Owens and bassist/producer Chet “JR” White have crammed these six songs so completely with hooks and charm, you’d be wont to forget their sad theme if the lyrics weren’t so darn affecting. “He’ll never know about the time that you cried in the movies / He’ll never know about the time that you cried to the music,” Owens croons over the swaying, horn-laced ‘50s slow-dance of “Thee Oh So Protected One,” capturing the essence of unrequited teenage love better than a year’s worth of tear-stained diary pages.
For a band whose last foray into pop culture involved a viral video featuring a man holding an erect penis and pretending to sing into the head like the veiny love-length was a mic (see [i]NME. COM/video[/i]), [a]Girls[/a] sure do have a tender side. “I put this on a mixtape for my eeeeeeex!” we heard a crowd member bawl last time they played over here, and it’s heartening to hear that, with this mini-album, Christopher Owens hasn’t let his grip on our heartstrings slacken.
Girls’ new EP opens with familiar guitars and heralding trumpets, trumpets that suggest to me the undecided, trumpets that ask ‘what sort of record should this be?’ If you hadn’t yet worked out the answer from its title, the next couple of lines should do it: Christopher Owens whispers ominously “Oh little girl they just don’t know / about the weight you carry in your soul”. This, I reckon, is going to get heavy. There’s a jaunt to this fine opening track, The Oh So Protective One, which is typical of much of Girls’ produce.
When Girls' debut, Album, finally arrived in 2009, their next-big-thing hype had already reached a surprising climax for a band of timid hippies. Despite seeming oblivious to musical trendiness, the San Franciscans won over the hipster crowd with their lovesick, gender-bending, world-weary pop. This EP sees their guitar-pop sound filled out with elements of country twang and space rock.
Not many young indie bands have created their own mythology in so short a time as Girls have. From their out-of-nowhere success to stories of singer Christopher Owens’ early life in a religious cult and as a gutterpunk in Amarillo to the NSFW porn collaborations, Girls have conjured up an aura of WTF? mystery that keeps you guessing about who these guys are and what they’re about: Are they oldies-loving pop traditionalists or ahead-of-the-curve hipsters? Are they free-love, free-drugs neo-hippies or sweet, sensitive indies, lust-for-life hedonists or incurable romantics? Or are they postmodern ironists of the first order, making music with feeling whether or not you’re sure that their aching sentimentality is in quotation marks? Even when you get the sense from their songs that Owens and Chet “J. R.
Girls have all the trappings for a one-record wonder. Here was a group of San Francisco delinquents led by a druggy, charismatic singer with a biography that rivals Cage’s in terms of its storybook nature, playing music that sounded bitingly new yet romantically nostalgic at the same time. Not only that, but they had the gall to entitle their debut with a sarcastic, flash-in-the-pan name like Album (which built a legacy over 12 tracks).
It’s been strange to see the recent trend in indie music, particularly North American indie music, for obscurantism. For a genre notable for its eccentric and uniquely individual forbearers, it seems perverse to hear indie bands trying to cloak personality in waves of reverb or tape hiss. New sub genres like (shudder) chill wave make a virtue of anonymity, the vocals swept away in delay.
Just after returning from a European tour in support of their breakout debut, Girls upgraded their recording equipment and chose six of their favorite new songs for the surprisingly conventional-sounding Broken Dreams Club EP. A wooden studio sheen provides a laid-back vibe as Christopher Owens, JR White, and a dozen guest musicians concentrate on dreamy Southern ballads done in a '50s-style. If this is a sign of things to come, expect them to sound like Beirut or Grizzly Bear by their next full-length.
Six-track EP closes with an exhilarating taster of things to come. Camilla Pia 2010 While it’s hardly been the most stable of beginnings (unabashed Beach Boys-aping, lazy record titles – a debut called Album, really? – and a background in hardcore music, punk and religious cults), Christopher Owens and company’s first offering showcased, in places, real songwriting talent. The outfit have been touring it relentlessly ever since.