I take a second look at the tracklist of Vivian Girls‘ second album, Everything Goes Wrong. 13 tracks? Huh, that should mean that the album is about 3 minutes longer than its ten-track predecessor. As I read through the song titles, I start smiling to myself. I don’t know if it’s because I come up with a thousand ways to do clever and mean wordplay on the titles while writing this review, or if it’s the sheer childish joy of hearing three mildly exuberant Brooklyn indie Cindies once again have at it, lo-fi punkrock style on record. Believe me, during the time running up to the inclusion in my iPod and listening to the album, I’ve nearly penned the review.
After just two minutes in, by the time “I Have No Fun” starts, I feel like seconding the song title’s statement. By the time of “Survival” I feel like writing something about dying if I hear another noisy guitar jangle burst. By the time of “The End” I hope that this is the end of the album, but fear that it instead is the end of my (sane) life. By the time of “I’m Not Asleep” I mutter something like “Yeah, but I wish either I or you were”. Do I need to write my last exclamation of stereotypical, “witty” critic cynicism by the time of the last track “Before I Start Crying”?
Oh, the Lord knows I wanted to condemn the Vivian Girls for slothfulness in their lack of ambition and artistic progression and gluttony as they wallow in guitar fuzz – just as if the first album had never happened. Upon first listen of this follow-up to 2008’s well received, self-titled debut I feel betrayed and fooled for seeing some sort of potential in this alluring trio. Oh, Lord, that girly-punk charm sure was seductive and tasted good, too.
Not only do they dare release the same album twice, something I would only expect from (or suspect of) The Pigeon Detectives. They also have the guts to give their listeners the finger by removing most of the (dis)harmonies, sweet melodies and somewhat-easy-to-catch hooks that the debut offered on a silver plate. (“Up yours, praisers, applauders and fans”!)
Disgruntled over this initial listen, I still decide to carry this burden like a cross. I’m the critic Jesus, I have a task and I will listen to this sinful abomination of a The Jesus And Mary Chain heir until I can give it a fair review. So I boomed noise pop in the car to the dismay of my co-riding sister, I blasted lo-fi indie rock through the speakers of my computer to the raised eyebrow of my friend and…
… from the depth of my depreciation of this record grew a subtle fondness of the stubborness, uncompromising conviction in their own style and the unpretentious faith that the girls have. Why, if not, I’ve come to realize that the Vivian Girls have actually pulled off a very, very decent noise pop/lo-fi indie rock album. The more lighthearted moments are relatively few this time around. Instead through the hissing filter that hundreds of shoegazing bands have passed through before them, the band unfolds a melancholy that at times outshines the debut’s more consistent (although there’s not much time to go wrong in a mere 22 minutes, right?) and catchy entirety. This time around, the band confirms, in 36 minutes, the thoughts, hope and desperation that bands of the latest 20 years have expressed and they do it in quite a tasteful way.
So no, everything on Everything does not go wrong. Most things work out fine actually. I take a third look at the tracklist. It’s the second outdoors walk with this album. Indeed, it is a reference to the album opener “Walking Alone At Night”. As I walk there once again with guitars grinding my ear towards nearly imperceptible melodic hooks and subtle harmonies I realize that I’m smiling of sheer, childish joy over three Brooklyn girls churning out dirty songs with pure hearts.
“When I’m Gone”
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