For a whole lot of reasons, Girls
’ debut, Album
, was one of the most widely lauded records in recent years. Between Christopher Owens’ easily relatable, heart-on-sleeve lyrics and slapdash charm, the San Franciscan duo threw together a record that quickly shaped up to be one of 2009’s most improbable candidates for album of the year, one that you’d have trouble finding without the words “instant classic” beside it. Its follow-up EP, last year’s Broken Dreams Club
, was even better, improving on nearly every facet of its predecessor while adding unforeseen dimensions to the duo’s sound.
And so for a whole lot more reasons – some old, some new – Father, Son, Holy Ghost outdoes its forebears in, for the second straight time, about every way imaginable. In place of Album‘s sometimes hard-to-swallow, wallowing self-pity, Holy Ghost is streaked with a buoyant, some might call it spiritual, sense of self-consciousness, while maintaining the endearing timidity. Right from the get-go – that is, album opener “Honey Bunny” – Owens sounds like a man changed, as he sings of all the girls who don’t like him for “his bony body,” “dirty hair,” or “the stuff he’s on” and his search for that one who’ll love him for all those things and more.
Elsewhere, things stay in the same divergent vein. “Die” finds the duo shamelessly riffing on Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”, while lyrically updating/cherry-picking ’50s teen riot anthem “Summertime Blues”, for a colossal rawk-out that’s miles from anything we’d expect from them. Even “Vomit”, Holy Ghost‘s lead single and perhaps the record’s most somber track (and also its best), ascends from a sparse, haunted intro to a transcendent, stadium-sized finish, during which Owens can be found cooing, “Come into my love” as sweetly as can be, no hint of his (too often showcased) troubled past, and over a gospel choir no less. Father, Son, Holy Ghost succeeds thoroughly at nearly everything it does, expanding Owens and JR White’s palette beyond the scope of the duo’s debut without going too far out on a limb.
Essential Tracks: “Vomit”, “Die”, and “Honey Bunny”