Vivian Girls | Share the Joy

Polyvinyl (2011)
By LIZ PELLY  |  June 7, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

Viv Main

In 2008, Brooklyn's Vivian Girls pioneered a new breed of quick, punky '60s girl-group pop, inspiring a resurgence of distortion-heavy garage sounds over the next two years. But on Share the Joy — the band's third full-length, and first record for Polyvinyl — the trio scales back the fuzz and ramps up the psychedelia, offering their 10 tightest, most introspective songs yet. Share the Joy opens with "The Other Girls," six minutes of pop gloom wherein guitarist Cassie Ramone muses on avoiding gender stereotypes. "I don't want to be like the other girls/I don't want to lose myself/I just wanna spend my time inside my mind," she sings, as subtle repetitions of "the other girls, the other girls" and "my mind, my mind" create a kaleidoscopic mantra. The record stays similarly dark on "Sixteen Ways," where Ramone narrates from the perspective of a woman grieving the murder of her 16 children. In contrast to the record's general psych-pop, "Take It as It Comes" is a clear outlier: it's straight-up Shangri-Las, alternating between hooky harmonies and minimal verses about boy troubles sung by bassist Katy Goodman (who plays a boy-obsessed character) and Ramone (whose urgent, level-headed advice is clearly the main point). The indulgent aspects of the track feel like a joke when juxtaposed with the dark, spaced-out guitar solos on "Vanishing of Time," or the morbid lyricism of "Death." Now three records into their career, Vivian Girls' influence has often been misunderstood and underappreciated. Some pin their influence to "lo-fi" production qualities rather than innovative fusing of varied pop sources. Pitchfork once pegged them as successful due to "ideal timing" at the "onset of the lo-fi resurgence," but that's bullshit —Vivian Girls helped create that resurgence. The trio's strongest asset has always been inspired, thoughtfully crafted pop songs, which Share the Joy should finally make clear.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Vivian Girls, Vivian Girls,  More more >
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