Vivian Girls - Vivian Girls (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls (2008)

In the Red

It is pretty much a rule that nothing will intrigue and entice the human mind like that which is contradictory. I mean, Hüsker Dü even wrote a song about it, and you just don't question a band with umlauts in their name. It's like a pair of eyes. You're looking at the umlaut, and it's looking at you. From this you can see as plainly as the scruff on my face why bands that often get pegged with the clashing tag of "noise pop" have gotten a lot of buzz this year (get it? buzz? zzzzz? ehn? ehn?). Brooklyn's Vivian Girls fall into this category with an approach that lays somewhere between Henry's Dress and Tiger Trap in the post-C86 universe. Their sense of melody is brought forth cleanly enough that you'll be humming and singing along as you make your bed but there is enough speed and dissonance that you'll be crashing around and messing it up in no time. So instead you should probably forget making your bed and just listen to the record.

With a band name that references Henry Darger and members with names like Cassie Ramone there is a certain assumption of rambunctious fun, and rambunctious fun is what you get. The layered echoic vocals utilized on songs like "Such a Joke" and "Tell the World" help add to the sense of the recording being a fun and inclusive jaunt like a night out with friends serenading passers-by on the night train. This vocal harmonizing combined with the jangle of the band's guitars harkens back to a bygone era before a gang of Liverpudlians came along and spoiled all the fun with their kidney pie, blood pudding and let-it-being.

Most of the album keeps up a frenzied pace that adds to these feelings of delight, but when the band brings things down a notch they don't lose a step, such as the forlorn "Where Do You Run To." The song perfectly captures the shoegazey low rumble of a band like the Jesus and Mary Chain with the added beauty of the band's soaring vocals for one of the album's standout tracks.

Another aspect of the album that stands out is these ladies' lyrical style, with most of the songs center around repeated refrains that really stick their hooks. This is taken to a whole other level when the band does the unthinkable and is able to make no mean yes, on "No," where that singular word is repeated over and over without getting the slightest bit annoying.

It is a brief 10-song album with more than half the songs clocking in at under two minutes, but there is zero filler and you'll want to flip the record back over as soon as the last chord is rung on "All the Time." Where a band like Times New Viking falls a little short on the hype because their noisier aspects interfere with their pop songwriting, Vivian Girls' two sides compliment each other to deliver the goods on this compact and well-written debut.