From the high pitched screams in Jane, a song about punching boys in the mouth, to singing about the fears of stepping out of your teenage comfort zone in Plants and Worms, folk punk band, Girlpool, consisting of duo Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, has since evolved from a Los Angeles DIY band to one renowned in the current independent music scene.
Their first self-titled debut EP was released on Bandcamp in 2014, with their debut LP Before The World Was Big being released the year after. In it, Girlpool showcases a range of songs reflecting on themes of identity, feminism, friendships, and the frustrations of growing up. In the track Cherry Picking, the two lament about a young relationship that’s drifting apart, with relatable lyrics: “First lovers turn to strangers/ Everyone always has to go”. In Ideal World, the duo continues to showcase the realities of entering adulthood: “I took a walk down the street/ Found nothing/ Beneath my feet” and “I was taught what to believe/ Now I’m only certain/ That no one is free”. As cliche as it sounds, Girlpool hits you right in the spot with that feeling of confusion, skepticism and frustration we all experience as we search for a sense of belonging.
This year Girlpool’s world becomes even bigger as they release their new album Powerplant. Despite the pair continuing their catchy, high-pitched harmonies, and structure of playing with a bass, guitar and minimal drumming, the duo have nevertheless matured as a band, as reflected in the album’s consistent tracks and instrumentation. In a 2015 interview about their previous LP, Tividad mentions that on the album: “There are a lot of songs we’ve experimented with, played live at shows“. Powerplant showcases how the two have since moved on from experimental songwriting to much more cohesive arrangements.
Taking a break from the technical side of music reviews though, what I’d really like to talk about is Girlpool’s ability to cater to everyone’s inner sad-teenage-girl needs, continuing with themes of self discovery, the difficulties of navigating through life and keeping afloat in general as we all do these days. This was particularly apparent in the track Corner Store, with the lyrics: “I get lost at the corner store/ I’m picking up things I’ve never seen before”, and again in Soup: “Your dad saw you crying when you looked at the world/ Sit and stare at your hands ’cause there’s so much to do”. All of you studying, working part time jobs, barely able to afford the $4 avocados at the supermarket can relate, right?
A fucked up business deal, sleepless dreams, deceiving nihilists. Age has definitely contributed to Girlpool’s ability to articulate emotions and the realities of the world. Self-defined through the title of the track It Gets More Blue, they sing of: “The nihilist tells you/ That nothing is true/ I said “I faked global warming/ Just to get close to you”, reminding us of the boxes of tissues, heartbreak and dishonest relationships that most of us have gone through. Ending with the track Static Somewhere, Girlpool sings of their hopes and aspirations: “I wonder what it’s like/ To sit and watch the sunrise”. Wondering what they will become in future and the things that come along with it.
I have been a fan of Girlpool since 2014, with fond memories attached of shouting along to Before The World Was Big in the car with my best friend after a long day of class, making a stop at McDonald’s for fries on the way, of course. I must say that although Powerplant was still enjoyable, evoking a sense of nostalgia for me, my world has also become bigger, dearest Girlpool, and although we’ve grown a bit distant, I hope you keep on doing what you do best.