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Künstler: Girls


For their 2009 debut (simply titled Album), Girls' two free-spirited San Francisco burnouts (one appearing relatively clean-cut, the other greasy-haired and disheveled) JR White and Christopher Owens go for the Mellow Gold with their take on D.I.Y. California pop. Where the similarly blog-touted Wavves offered a pill-popping, pot-fueled skater's perspective on fun in the sun, Girls offer up a similarly thrifty and drug-addled ode to the warm climate, but filtered through a pair of green-tinted hippie shades. In their brand of lo-fi, they opt to go against the momentary trend of recording to the red, and instead use an earthy approach, with clean Ariel Pink guitar twang and Spiritualized psychedelic plate reverbs. White plays the producer role, acting as a fly on the wall at times, and at others layering shoegaze swells to fill the backdrop of Owens' minimalistic, squeaky-voiced guitar ballads. Simplicity is Girls' ally, as is the duo's knack for keen Beach Boys melodies. It's not anything that hasn't been tried before, but the two 29-year-olds have chemistry, and they deliver a consistent batch of songs that sound at once warm and familiar. As a whole, everything's relaxed and dreamy, perfectly matching the '70s aesthetic of their videos: washed out with overexposed sun streaks and a Crayola watercolor palette. A few songs take a turn to the unexpected. The rough-and-tumble "Big Bad Mean Motherfucker" appropriates a '60s song about driving a muscle car to the surf (think "Little Honda") and runs it through a dirty ringer of garage grime, while "Headache" takes a tongue-in-cheek lounge-ballad approach, complete with jazzy key changes, and, of course, added beach sounds. Among the slight detours, the majority of the album always manages to stay true to the baked-summer pop aesthetic. "Summertime" is a slow burner that encourages free-spirited 'tude with lines like "Lay in the park, smoke after dark, get high like I used to do/Summertime, soak up the sunshine with you" before detouring into a blistering synth inferno. Meanwhile, "God Damned" is a catchy little acoustic and bongo number, perfect for a Dolores Park picnic. There's no shortage of tunes to instantly hum along to, but still, the seven-minute "Hell Hole Ratrace" remains their crowning achievement. ~ Jason Lymangrover