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on 28 September 2009
The story of Girls frontman Christopher Owen's is almost unbelievable. He was brought up in a cult called the Children of God, where his brother died due to a lack of medical care, his father left and his mother was forced to prostitute herself on occasion. Sure enough as a teenager he ran away and after living in gutters for a while he was ultimately taken under the wing of Texan millionaire and so he moved to San Francisco. It couldn't be written better by Shakespeare himself. So it is that Owen's had all the life experience he would ever need to create the master piece that is `Album'.

The first thing that comes across in Girls debut is that the music is totally stripped back and that there is absolute honesty in the lyrics. Christopher Owen's stark voice is open and emotional throughout. The closest comparison is the melancholy chimings of Okkervil River's Will Sheff but the music behind the vocals has an all together starker feel to it. The opening track and recent single `Lust for Life' sets the mood for the rest of the album. It is a bitter pop song with lyrics of "I wish I had a father. Maybe then I would have turned out right." The guitars roll happily through the track unaware of Owne's bitterness. The bass is smooth and the handclaps towards the end add a communal feel to it. `Laura' is an honest pop song, with Owen's crying out "I really wanna be your friend forever". It is a subtle track with nice melodies and well crafted echoing harmonies towards the end. Ultimately it is a strangely upbeat and hopeful track. `Ghost Mouth' then becomes much more mournful and regretful. `God Damned' then pops up its head like a strange camp fire sing along.

The following track, `Big Bad Mean . . .', then adds a new element to the mix in the form of some heavy distortion. The track strangely sounds like a Beach Boys track if they had been brought up under the influence of Sonic Youth. It then ends abruptly before returning to the stripped back chiming of `Hellhole Ratrace'. Owen's sings "I'm all alone with my deep thoughts. I'm all alone with my heartache." It is a reflective track with a restrained ambition for something better in the future, but this is all depicted by the vocals and restrained distortion towards the end.

So by this point you are half way through the album and have already experienced a multitude of Mr. Owen's woes. It is no suprise then when `Headache' continues in the same fashion, however the veritably happy arrival of `Summertime' with gently strutting guitars and drums before some nicely used distortion pushes it all into a summery daze of sound half way through. It then closes out with the happy refrain of "Summertime, soak up the sunshine with you." That is a momentary smile however as `Lauren Marie' starts in strangely menacing fashion with a foghorn like organ part to start that continues quietly for a while before guitars and strings gently rise out of the mist like the dream of which Owen was singing. After all this time in the album and being gently swayed from pillar to post the loud and distorted release of `Morning Light' is truly fantastic. Frantic and catchy it's almost as if the whole band suddenly woke up and had two and a half minutes of energetic activity before subsiding back into the gentleness of `Curl'. The whole thing then closes with the gentle rock and roll of `Darling'.

It feels like the album should end with a narrator saying "This is the story so far", and it has been a truly emotional one. Every track is informed by the strange combination of Owen's early life and the sunny disposition of San Francisco. It is truly an absolute triumph of subtle song craft as every track holds its own beauty and intrigue. So if you listen to it the first time round and don't get it then give it a chance have another listen and enjoy what truly is a brilliant album.
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on 11 December 2009
Reflective and honest, this economically-titled album mixes Beach Boys harmonies, Kinks-brand summeriness and a bucket-load of charm. And it's all true, even the bit about being adopted by a Texan millionaire. Crackers and great. File under poignant and trendy win.
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on 3 February 2010
bought this when I read someone's description in fopp and I thought I should try something new and unfamiliar to me.
the first track is how pop should be. look it up on youtube if you are unsure and enjoy the video too.
girls have created their own little world with clear influences but its a good world to listen to and feel a part of.
it's a little alternative but its real.
get this album and enjoy.
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The excellent review above by Toby Staunton should be the first point of reference on "Girls - Album". All I want to do here is comment on two of my favourite songs of 2009. Firstly the wonderful "Hellhole Ratrace". If Sophia Coppela was to remake "Lost in Translation" today this would track 1 on the soundtrack. It is the sweetest pop song I have heard this year mixing Glasvegas/Spector style production with some nice My Bloody Valentine swirling "bagpipe" guitars in the background to accompany singer Christopher Owens messy break-up. The other track is the opener "Lust for Life" not a cover of the Iggy Pop classic but Woods leading with a nasal vocal to produce a gorgeous Californian pop melody which will have you clapping like a wind up monkey with cymbals. These two songs are worth the price of the album on its own and if this wasn't enough you can also marvel at the funniest Beach Boys song ever written "Big Bad Mean Mothers".

The rest of the album is excellent and they recently told a music paper that it could have been "Pet Sounds" if they had decent equipment to record it on. I disagree since it is the lo fi and haphazard nature of "Album" that makes it stand out. As Uncut recently stated "Album' lurches bizarrely from the heart-rending to the goofy to the simply spaced-out, but what it lacks in polish it makes up for with buckets of charm". Yes it borrows liberally from other bands but without being beholding to anyone. "Album" is populated with ace tunes and if "Girls" ever do manage to get a decent studio who knows what is possible?
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on 20 March 2012
There hasn't been such a feel-good album in a while, or at least one that could kick your teeth in and make you smile at the same time. Sure, the "girls" are crying out because they are seeking love, redemption, adventure and they're obsessed with that one person that we're all obsessed with, that is "me".
But it never feels forced, it comes so naturally that it's hard to listen to this as adolescent effusions. Take Morning Light or Lust for Life. Polar opposites, but simply vibrating with undiscovered possibilities. They're both quietly bursting out of frame and it's a wonderful show.
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on 4 July 2015
Was expecting slightly better.
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on 17 March 2016
all ok
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