On their debut long-player, Girls gorge themselves on the all-you-can-eat buffet that is rock's storied past. Somehow, though, they forgot the crucial dollop of excitement or charisma, so we're left with an earful of directionless heartbreak and failure.
Lead Girl Chris Owens channels Elvis Costello so directly that the result is more creative anachronism than imitation, albeit without EC's lyrical knots. "Hellhole Ratrace" has moments of stately sadness; "Laura" is stuntedly sunny, with ba-ba-ba lines that are probably meant to remind you that Girls hail from California. Owens is not without his desperate charm, especially the crack in his voice as he intones that wistful title wish to remain "friends forever."
But if rock-and-roll culture is supposed to embody the wild boyfriend you can't take home to mother, Girls are more like the sad sack who's always over for meatloaf night until mom has a gentle talk with you about how you're still young and can do a little better.