This ‘Girlpool’ review was written by James Brinsford, a GIGsoup contributor.
If you like minimalist and stripped back fare when it comes to your music choice then ‘Girlpool’ are a must for your playlist, as Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad eschew percussion for a mostly acoustic bass and guitar backing to their harmonising.
‘Before the World Was Big’ is their debut full length offering – though with it clocking in at just over 25 minutes, it is certainly only just able to justify being described as an album.
Despite the ten songs not venturing much toward three minutes a piece, ‘Girlpool’ still seem to have managed to give this offering space and there’s no feeling of claustrophobia or the feeling of it racing by before you managed to register that it was with you.
Low-key is probably best how to describe opener ‘Ideal World’ as a sparse plucking bass plods ever presently under the slightly off-kilter harmonies – whilst there’s the occasional interjection of a twang from the electric guitar. It eventually all descends into a scraping of strings that cut off the vocals before it seems that they’d finished delivering their message.
If the opener wasn’t stark enough, then ‘Dear Nora’ manages to pull back the sound even more as ‘Girlpool’ reach for their acoustics to accompany the fragile vocals. There is a third change in three songs, with the title track, where Tucker and Tividad go high-pitched and from the midway point of the song, they look to finish the rest without pausing for breath … and almost succeed.
‘Chinatown’ ushers in a sound not too dissimilar to the likes of ‘First Aid Kit’ as sweet harmonising with acoustic guitars produce their most commercial track on the album, before ‘Cherry Picking’ almost brings proceedings to a halt as it starts so slowly that you feel that it will all grind to a full stop. Just to keep you on your toes though, it has an about turn on the pace and starts steaming to a conclusion that’s extended by the 36 seconds of majesty that is ‘Magnifying Glass’ before it hits a wall and we can all draw breath.
Tracks are coming and going in under two minutes during this section and the next up is ‘Crowded Stranger’, that hints at how Interpol would sound if stripped of their percussion and given a happier view on life.
Every track stands uniquely alone from the others, which is perfectly encapsulated in the final three tracks as it veers from the eerie acapella of ‘Pretty’ to the thoughtful melodies of ‘I Like That You Can See It’. Though this selection is not the most immediate you’ll come across this year, you will soon start to find that starkness of the tracks bring an unexpected warmth that makes ‘Before The World Was Big’ a more welcoming proposition with each listen.
‘Before the World Was Big’ is out now on Witcha Recordings.
You can see ‘Girlpool’ at one of the following venues…