Review: Vivian Girls LP

6 10 2008

Vivian Girls-Vivian Girls (2008 Mauled By Tigers)

The new Vivian Girls LP (actually a re-release of a 1000-copy pressing earlier this summer from In The Red records) is, as is so often the story, the culmination of a long wait after a year or so of massive underground hype. In this effort, the all-girl trio from Brooklyn actually live up to expectations.

The album, all 22-minutes of it, is brimming with energy. The band plays fast and furious in an impeccably lo-fi environment. The noise and distortion also conceal some pretty excellent pop hooks and even some sung harmonies. However, all of this is basically the checklist for a good punk/lo-fi album these days, and hardly makes the Vivian Girls special.

What does make the album special is the way the emotional intensity is channeled into a coherent narrative structure. On the A side, the protagonist goes from the nascent inklings of a crush to finally having the object of her desire and announcing it jubilantly in “Tell The World”. Those of you with the vinyl go to flip the album over, only to be met the first cracks in the relationship. The somber “Where Do You Run To” leads into the actual breakup, which climaxes with “No”. The bitterness, anger and nihilism of the post-breakup world comprise the subject matter of “Never See Me Again” and “I Believe In Nothing”*.

Throughout this story, the emotions felt are palpable. The driving musical background thrusts the intense, youthful feelings to the forefront and keeps them there. And obviously the listener identifies easily with the protagonist, having lived through the same thing probably once every 6 months in high school.

The intensity of the emotional content and the way it’s conveyed do, however, severally limit its depth. “Tell The World” is hardly the most insightful commentary on newfound love ever recorded, and similarly, yelling “no!” for a minute and 20 seconds doesn’t really help anyone sort out the complex anxieties of an ended relationship.

This doesn’t mean it’s not a completely effective and valid representation of those anxieties though. “No” is essentially the Platonic ideal of breakup anger. If you don’t ask for insight the Vivian Girls won’t disappoint. On this album they present a vigorous and captivating portrait of a relationship encapsulated in a few key emotions, and I’m fine with that.

Rating: 7.9


*Note: All the cool kids this fall will be making mixes that begin with Wolf Parade’s “I’ll Believe In Anything” and ending with the Vivian Girls’ “I Believe In Nothing”.




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