Sunday, March 13, 2011


I don't
wanna be
like the
other girls.

-- Vivian
Girls, "The
Other Girls"

Vivian Girls, Share the Joy, Polyvinyl Record Co. [4/12/11]

Intentionally or otherwise, Brooklyn's Vivian Girls have always
sounded like the Shangri-las for a new era: sweet vocals blended
with volume, distortion, and spoken-word vignettes. They began
as ladies with attitude, driving rhythms, and a sense of unease.

It was pop music, and it's still pop music, but sprinkled with
the gloom of goth-rock. They aren't predicting the end of the
world or even the end of love, but the trio favors minor key
melodies and harmonies that convey more sorrow than joy.
When they sing, "It's all all right with me," they don't sound
doubtful, so much as resigned, thinking they can't do better.

As Cassie Ramone explains in the press notes, "These songs
focus a lot on the themes of alienation, reconciliation, identity,
and trying to figure out what really matters in life. It's a dark
album, but unlike our first two albums, it has a happy ending."

A lot has changed since 2009's Everything Goes Wrong, about
which I had mixed feelings. The Girls moved from In the Red to
Polyvinyl, drummer Ali Koehler left to join ex-tour mates Best
Coast (Fiona Campbell now fills her spot), bass player "Kickball"
Katy Goodman issued her debut as La Sera, and guitarist Cassie
formed the Babies, whose self-titled release just hit the streets.


They ain't comin' back, it's too late. They
shot my baby, but they killed my faith.
--"Sixteen Ways" (Green on Red cover)


The good news is that these side projects are worth your while
if you have any interest in the parent band. More important-
ly, Share the Joy, which takes its title from a Burt Bachrach-
Hal David composition, is a solid effort from Cassie and crew.
I still prefer their first record, brief running time aside, but
they've tightened things up since Everything Goes Wrong.

In the end, though, it has the feel of a transitional release, like
they're still adjusting to these changes. Their third disc isn't bad,
but it isn't great either, and since they've proven they're capab-
le of that very thing, I have to admit I'm a little disappointed.

Endnote: Vivian Girls play the Vera Project on 5/6. For more
information, please click here or here. Portrait from Polyvinyl.

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