Girls - "Father, Son, Holy Ghost"
Label: True Panther Sounds
Release Date: September 7th, 2011
My biggest complaint with the debut Girls record, Album, was Christopher Owens’ strained, forced, and to put it bluntly, fictitious vocals. Many disagreed with this observation at the time of Album’s release, but look no further than their sophomore release Father, Son, Holy Ghost as vindication. On the album, Owens’ voice is restrained and refuses to bounce around to fit the melody in the awkward way it did on Album. This change and the amount of musical influences checked on Father, Son, Holy Ghost brings up the question of identity and ultimately has me asking if Girls have any idea who they are as a band or what they want to add to the musical landscape.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost will confuse a lot of listeners and music critics into a positive reaction. The album sounds crisp throughout and is simply an enjoyable spin. In music, the familiar is comfortable, accessible, and demands less on the listener. Mix that with Girls’ intelligent use of switching tempo/mood mid song to keep the listener of their toes and you have the perfect recipe for a widely celebrated record. There is no argument that Owens borrows from his musical influences throughout the record, he has admitted it himself in several interviews. There's nothing wrong with looking to musical favorites in order to craft an album; the problem exists when an artist doesn’t do enough to separate themselves from their influences or inject enough of their own unique vision into the final product. There are very few moments that feel new or give me any insight into the personality of Girls.
The biggest problem concerning Father, Son, Holy Ghost is the lack of cohesiveness between sound and theme. The album jumps from Beach Boys, to Wolfmother (yeah, Wolfmother's "Woman" guitar riff to Girls' "Die"), to country, to alt rock, to 60’s/70’s folk without any indication of why these tracks appear on the same album other then a consistent vocal performance throughout. Other then celebrating or paying homage to Girls’ own personal musical favorites, why were these tracks picked to form a complete record? That’s the question I found myself asking throughout the entire album and never received the answer.
I do recommend giving this album at least one spin. If you can simply enjoy a band cataloguing and performing their musical favorites, you will find a lot to like on this album. After hearing Father, Son, Holy Ghost I’m convinced that Girls do have the technical skills to make a great album, they have one or several in them, they just need to take a few risks and show listeners who they truly are and what unique fingerprints they can put on music. Maybe then, bands will make the same mistake Girls did on Father, Son, Holy Ghost and try to emulate their sound. After all, that’s the ultimate artistic compliment and the downfall for many bands afraid to blaze their own trails.