Album – Girls (September 2009)

About two weeks ago, I learned of Girls’ Album through Pitchfork’s incredibly high rating of 9.1. Throughout 2009, 9.0+ grades had been reserved for Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion, Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest, and Dirty Projectors’ Bitte Orca. The popular trend of the three critically acclaimed powerhouses of the year seemed to be built around complex vocal and instrumental arrangement, so when an album as stunningly simple as Album was met with such acclaim, it threw me off. After listening to the album once in my room, I went out for a midnight walk. I let The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead blare through my headphones as I ventured around Atlantic to see if anything was open, and after I found a place to get a bit of food, I started listening to Album again.

“And maybe if I tried with all of my heart, I could make a brand new start in love with you,” the leadoff song “Lust For Life” ends. At that point I’d fallen in love with Christopher Owens’s voice, which I’d describe as “Elvis Costello but bitchier”. “Reach out. Touch me. I’m right here, and I don’t want to fight anymore. I really want to be your friend forever”, Owens chimes in on the next track. It goes on like this. Almost cliché, isn’t it? I’d certainly say if it weren’t for the fact that Owens’s simplicity is only matched by his sincerity. You can hear it in his voice that girls are all that’s really on his mind.

I’d heard a few things about Owens’s tragic childhood in the cult of The Children Of God. The morning after I listened to Album for the first two times, I trekked around on Google and found a marvelous interview at FAQ Magazine (http://www.faqmagazine.org/ChristopherGirls.htm) detailing his mad world where someone found with Michael Jackson albums is accused of homosexuality and all women are ordered to imagine Jesus while having intercourse. Despite all of this, Owens decides to write about all of his girls, harping over exes like he was Black Francis.

This one goes down with The Beach Boys’ Today! and The White Stripes’ De Stijl as one of those albums that manages to be revelatory without being particularly outspoken. It’s simple tunes for simple people, despite the complex stories driving it.

A-

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Published in: on October 11, 2009 at 9:37 PM  Leave a Comment  

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