REVIEW: Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

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Artist: Girls
Album: Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: True Panther Sounds

The Gods of hipsterdom very rarely live up to the hype that follows them – though as is the case with most things in hipsterdom, really – in fact, the only ones that really deserve the acclaim they receive are Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and Jeff Magnum of Neutral Milk Hotel, no one else really stacks up to the fervent following advocated by the self-proclaimed social-elite. I’m not quite sure what it is that earns a lot of these people their notoriety, perhaps it’s earned on some level that I can’t quite comprehend, or perhaps it’s just for the sake of obscurity, and faux-elitism, but for whatever reason, these bands hardly ever live up to the hype. So naturally, I assumed the worst when it came time to check out Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the new album from Girls. The band’s frontman, Christopher Owen, had earned himself similar acclaim, and I figured it had to do with his past involvement with the Children Of God religious cult; being in a cult presumably makes one edgier, or at least I’d imagine it would. Furthermore, upon first listen, the music seemed to be a very eccentric sort of indie pop with slight hints of Beach Boys type surf rock on one end of the spectrum, then swinging towards devastatingly heart-wrenching at the other end, which seemed almost too eclectic to be anything but contrived. I wasn’t really too impressed with my first listen. But of course, as with any real visionary of the music world, it takes more than one listen to really understand what they’re getting at; it takes a little while to understand their true goal. And that seems to be what happened with Girls, at first I really wasn’t too sold on the sound of Father, Son, Holy Ghost, or the overall vision, but it grew on me, and with each listen, the depth became more apparent.

From the beginning, the whole concept seemed a bit contrived and pretentious, according to the band, the album title was chosen in order to reflect the spiritual quality of the album. I’m a firm believer in not over-selling music, let the album be just that, a collection of songs; trying too hard make people believe it’s something much more grand than that really only serves to kill the original quality of the songs themselves. But there might be some validity to their claim, there is a bit more too this album than just the surface value of the songs. Songs like “Love Like A River” and “Vomit” are just so achingly soulful, there is certainly some depth hidden in there somewhere, when those sort of emotions are put on display to the public, there is definitely some passion behind the music, to the point where the album can transcend the boundaries of being just “a collection of songs”. The best part about all this however, is that, aside from the aforementioned claim about the album, and much of the media hype surrounding it, the music itself is, although tragic at times, never overdone, and never pretentious; it always remains honest, and brilliantly composed.

All said, I’m not in any position to even say that Christopher Owen, or Girls in general, is on par with the likes of Jeff Magnum and Neutral Milk Hotel, or even close to that sort of level of legendary talent. But I can certainly understand some of the hype that is starting to surround this band. It’s more than just hipster elitism, it’s more than just the fact that Owens was in a creepy hippie cult, it’s more than the fact that he looks like another coked out American Apparel model, it really does boil down to some quality music, well deserving of praise. Of course, I’m still not convinced that it deserves the levels of unfaltering praise the album is getting, but it is still very good. Not legendary good maybe, but definitely very good.

8/10
Reviewed by: Mike Hogan

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • kevin

    When has anything ever struck you as “legendary good” during the course of a few cursory listens (or even, say, a dozen) as you probably gave this album prior to writing this review? Every album that I truly love, my own legendary good, has taken many listens over an extended period to became such. Your criticism seems as fleeting and momentary as the very trends you accuse “hipsters” of rushing to follow — maybe only seeking a different sort of elitism.