By Patrick Dalziel (@JoyDscvryPaddy)
Remember 2014? Remember when it was somehow the “in thing” to be in a band comprising of only two members? Feels like an age ago now: Drenge found a bassist somewhere, Royal Blood went dark for quite sometime and Slaves made the same album twice in a row. But, here to show the amateurs how to do it comes folk punk duo Girlpool with their second LP Powerplant. Which despite the band’s bizarre stance on using the space bar, is rather incredible.
Where the album truly excels is when the marriage of its two genres plays off effortlessly. Mixing elements of post punk – a very notable influence here is Sonic Youth – with melodies that wouldn’t feel out of place on an early Belle & Sebastian record (Tigermilk era). If this still sounds all a bit puzzling and too contradictory to work, check out the incendiary Cornerstore: an enticingly swift introduction to the band’s musical inspirations and capabilities. Here for just under two minutes band members, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Trindad serenade you before exposing you to their grunge styles with no warning. But, for some reason it doesn’t feel alien. At no point within their tales of love, loss and desperation does it feel unnecessary to have injected the songs with that visceral energy.
This may be down to a couple of points, the very short length of the album (28 minutes) ensures no song outstays its welcome. So no part of it feels bloated or misjudged, even upon repeat listens. Also, this rush of primeval anger feels natural within the story-lines of the songs. The original sadness is drowned beneath a layer of enveloping rage. Directionless but not misplaced, evoking memories of 2000’s indie rock such as Manchester Orchestra or Brand New. Although, where these bands offered some form of exploration on their records, some people may feel Girlpool don’t push their boundaries enough. It doesn’t notably detract from the experience however, as the whole thing flows beautifully into a stream of consciousness. Ready to drag listeners under the surface into the murky waters the songs occupy.
In short, the up and coming duo have provided one of the surprise albums of this year. A truly energetic recounting of love and loss that lives by the mythos of less is more, and does so with an undeniable style.