Despite their name, Girls have no female members. This two-dude band loves to subvert expectations.
Based in San Francisco, singer Christopher Owens and bassist JR White tap into the city's countercultural history, extracting pop sounds from the 1960s and 1970s and splicing them with dreamy bits of glam, psych-rock and good old-fashioned lo-fi. The results have drawn comparisons to the Beach Boys, John Lennon and Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, in part for their craftsmanship and in part for their ability to conjure nostalgia for a bygone era. They capture the carefree attitude of a time long before the birth of the Internet and its quandaries.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the sophomore album Girls released just a few weeks ago, explores sensual and sexual questions through a spiritual lens, one informed by White's experience growing up in the Children of God cult. Though the music brims with the warmth and simplicity of a wholesome pop tune, or even a church hymn, it's a much more tripped-out affair. Owens almost whispers the lyrics on "Vomit," a song that, contrary to the theme its name suggests, concerns a romantic quest. The album's conclusions are hazy, but the moods are crystal clear, ranging from daring and destructive on "Die" to sunny and hopeful on "Honey Bunny."
It's "Honey Bunny" that could unlock at least one secret behind Girls' name. Fueled by a melody reminiscent of the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun, Fun" - with a touch of Jesus and Mary Chain - Owens' persona laments that girls don't like his bony body or his dirty hair, the stuff he says or the stuff he's on. They don't know who he is, and they don't care. There's just one exception: his mother, whose love is attentive, abundant and unconditional. She's a woman, and the others are just girls. In other words, girls are everywhere, but a good woman is hard to find.