Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vivian Girls -- Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls -- Vivian Girls (In The Red)

This trio follows in the footsteps of acts like The Shop Assistants, Tiger Trap and The Jesus And Mary Chain, offering classic pop song structure with winsomeness and some guitar racket. The band’s sound is instantly appealing.

But the album is more defined by its mood and atmosphere than compelling songs. When a good hook is present, this is pretty wonderful. It just doesn’t happen enough.

The first time it happens is on “Going Insane”, which is 89 seconds of rise-and-fall melody with the chorus punctuated by Frankie Rose’s crashing symbols. It’s also hard to resist the charms of the relatively quiet (or un-clangorous?) “Where Do You Run To?” Rather than blast the feedback, the band shows off its harmony vocal skills in the best possible light on a true charmer. This is the only track on which the chorus really builds and is, by far, the most memorable song on the disc.

However, although the basic melodic ideas are similar on other tracks, the lack of lyrical phrases that stick is a hindrance. There are a few instrumental flourishes that catch, but they aren’t enough. The overall effect is that I think the Vivian Girls have a lot of good ideas but can’t be bothered to work them out into good songs.

I would go so far as to say that the low-fi production does not serve the band well. It blurs what should be distinct in the band’s sound. I think the ghostly nature of the vocals would not be harmed by sharper production that put things into better focus.

There is clearly potential here, but it sounds like The Vivian Girls either hit the studio too early or couldn’t be bothered to fully execute their songs. I will be very interested in how this band develops.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

In preview snippets this album was fantastic, but it didn't really hold up as an actual album. This is another band that looks better on paper than it sounds on the stereo.