Relief and elation fight eachother as Girlpool release their new record Before the World Was Big! Thank goodness for that; following on from their EP of spry, confrontational jangle pop, they offer more songs about personal growth and identity, intertwined with unbelievable melodies that are modestly stated but deeply felt. Phew.
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Philadelphia - not exactly renowned for having a particularly vibrant music scene, but the city’s home to one of the most interesting duo’s of recent times. Having upped sticks and moved from LA - where there’s music by the bucketload, it seems that Girlpool are very much a welcomed aspect to Philly’s music scene if their debut Before the World Was Big is anything to go by.
With Cleo Tucker on guitar and Harmony Tividad on bass, the pair combine bass-y melodies with lyrical musings on growing up - the album’s title alluding to how small the world feels when you’re young. With an emotional gravitas seldom heard on contemporary indie pop albums, they follow in the footsteps of the likes of Scottish band The Spook School who are similarly adept at depicting grievances of identity, youth and growing up.
Their combined vocals are a lovely element, sounding rather naive and petulant at times, but make no mistake - Girlpool are not a twee band despite initial impressions: opener ‘Ideal World’ is more punk than fey, and the title track is a wonderfully angsty little number. There are quieter moments that counteract this, such as the reflective ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Cherry Picking’, the latter being a stand-out moment that combines stirring folk and sparse reflections - the bold harmonies and lyrical musings being particularly reminiscent of Kimya Dawson.
On those folkier tracks, it would be easy to lump this band with the likes of other folksy duo’s such as First Aid Kit, but there’s a rawness here that differentiates them. The vocal delivery, for example, though suitably sweet, is more out there and expressive, the lack of a drummer makes the record sound sparse and personal too. In essence this is more of a heartfelt jangle-pop record focused on moods and emotions. For the world-weary and disillusioned, Before the World Was Big is an excellent coming-of-age album.
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