When Girls released their debut record, Album, I was intrigued by the duo’s unpolished variety of styles. The album was simple and to-the-point. While nothing was too “original”, as every song carried an influence, the lo-fi production set it apart and made it one of the best listens of 2009.
Now, with Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the duo has polished their sound and continued to have a variety of genres floating through the album. Only, this time around the production sounds just as good as most music, making it just another album. Girls seem to be trying so hard on this record to cram as many styles (sometimes changing it up in mid-song) that it automatically sounds forced.
The album starts off with “Honey Bunny”, it’s surf-rock/Beach Boys feel works really well and proves to be a nice starting point, and then things start to fall apart.
“Alex” is some sort of attempt at nineties rock that goes on for too long and bores after just one minute, all the changes in the song are boring and it sounds like the same song that you’ve heard time and time again.
They try their hand at metal/hard rock on “Die” and it’s a laughable attempt. The shift into a Pink Floyd prog track midway through makes things even worse.
And then things really start to hurt on “Saying I Love You”. The country song is a joke, and Christopher Owen’s vocals are the lowest point here (and through out the entire album). His delivery is forced, it’s obviously the sound of someone trying too hard to emulate emotions.
Just when I had felt like giving up on the album, “My Ma” started up. The bluesy, gospel infused track works on every level. The organ is a perfect fit. Sure, the vocals are too obviously forced, but it’s something that can be overlooked on this track.
The greatness keeps going with “Vomit”, as it starts off creepy and then builds itself higher and higher with more organ and gospel vocals. For once, Owen’s vocals are perfect and the ending of the song brings The Rolling Stones to mind. Easily one of the best tracks of the year.
“Just a Song” is exactly that. The simple acoustic guitar is nice and it could have worked, and then Owen’s vocals start up and his attempt at displaying sadness is a mess that’s so obviously fake it’s impossible to make it though the entire track without laughing at the hokeyness of the entire thing.
The bright, sunny atmosphere that was so much fun on Album shows up on “Magic”. Yeah, it’s lots of fun to listen to. And then once I really started to listen the song, I noticed how fucking bad the vocals are. Even his tries at happiness sound fake on this album. And backing vocals don’t help either.
More sad acoustic shit shows up on “Forgiveness”, a track that deserves no forgiveness. The slow track goes and goes for eight minutes. Sure, the mood changes up later in the song, but it’s so abrupt (yet, so damn typical) that it does nothing but annoy.
Girls moves into an R&B flavor with “Love Like a River”. And almost everything sounds great with the organ and gospel choir, and then those goddamn vocals have to show up. When Christopher Owen sings “Baby, baby, baby stay” you can’t help but laugh at how hokey the entire thing is.
The final song, “Jamie Marie”, starts off with a simple guitar and more “sad” vocals. The final third of the track brings back the organ, but it’s just too much. How many times you can you hear that organ over the point of one record?
Girls has promise as group, and Father, Son, Holy Ghost shows that. But they’re love for other artists is quickly draining them out. This is their third release (their second album, one EP between) and they still show no sort of idea of who they are as a group. This record carries no direction and comes off as a mess, despite the clean production.
This album is frustrating for a number of reasons. There are obvious moments of greatness, and moments of hokeyness. Father, Son, Holy Ghost is a very listenable album, despite all of it’s cheese, it’s rarely unbearable.
Girls has no idea who they are a group, moving from one thing to the next, and rarely being able to pull it off properly. The biggest flaw in Father, Son, Holy Ghost is the sound of a group trying too hard. Great music just happens, it sounds effortless. Girls seemed to understand that the first time around, but now it mainly just sounds labored over and tired.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10.