sat 02/03/2024

CD: Girlpool - What Chaos Is Imaginary | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Girlpool - What Chaos Is Imaginary

CD: Girlpool - What Chaos Is Imaginary

LA duo's musical world expands still further

Girlpool have never sounded better together

Few bands have grown up in real time in quite as interesting a way as Girlpool. It’s partly a question of timing: Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker were barely old enough to play bars around the release of their precocious 2013 debut EP, with its sing-song harmonies and cover like a child’s painting.

And it’s partly a reflection of how their musical world has expanded with each release, each new album showing off a fuller sound yet still perfectly reflecting the internal and external chaos of figuring out your place in a confusing world as a young adult.

This evolution has never been more obvious than on third album What Chaos Is Imaginary: the first sound you hear, over a typically ragged guitar tone, is that of Tucker’s rich, bassy voice. Where once the band’s dual vocalists and songwriters hid behind each other, presenting their lyrics as a common voice to the point of often shouting lines in unison, now each sounds more sure; the part each brings to the tapestry of Girlpool more clearly defined. Tividad and Tucker spent time writing apart and exploring different musical outlets between the release of 2017’s Powerplant and this album, while Tucker, who came out as transgender not long after that album’s release, was rediscovering a voice deepened by testosterone. When the duo reunite vocally, on the second verse of opening track “Lucy’s”, the results are glorious – they’ve never sounded better together.

The pair kick against their sonic presets too, pairing hummable, pick and mix lo-fi rockers like “Lucky Joke” and “Pretty” with expansive, sonic experiments: Tucker’s echoey, ethereal “Chemical Freeze” or “Where You Sink”, with Tividad’s softly-rendered vocal smothered in melodic distortion. Where the last album added live drums to the mix, here the duo welcome drum machines, synthesizers and even, on the album’s stunning title track, a string quartet. A song written by Tividad during a period of particularly acute poor mental health, it opens with a synthetic church organ and glassily fragile vocal before ending in a full-on sonic baptism. When the album ends, in the gorgeous tangle of faded voices and fuzzy guitar that is “Roses”, it leaves you excited to see where they plan to go next. Because you can bet they’re already halfway there.

Below: watch the video for "Where You Sink" by Girlpool

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