Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker add more grit to their bite on second album

Californian duo Girlpool have released their sophomore album Powerplant, via Anti. The same record label that housed Elliot Smith and Neko Case. Follow up to the distinctly intimate riot grrl LP Before the World Was Big. On their second offering, Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker have added a bit more machine to their previously stripped back DIY punk rock outfit.

There’s the addition of drums which have made only sparse appearances on Powerplants predecessors. A lusher production is at work in general. The guitars especially, which are heavily layered and sweep from chorus happy surfy warmth to wedges of distorted reverberations. Girlpool’s punk rock ethos of short ‘n’ sweet is still at play. Even though many of the tracks barely roll over 2 minutes 20 seconds, the advancing musicality of the duo is clear throughout the record.

Evolving with a graceful flow, it is inevitable that Powerplant sounds more mature than the first album. After all, the pair were still in their teens when they wrote it. Still keeping that intimate close sound, by keeping the vocals up front Girlpool have lost none of what made them stand out. Whereas before we felt like we were eavesdropping on a conversation in a locker room or reading a someone’s’ angsty diary. Now when you listen to Powerplant, it feels like they have fully invited you to.

Sleepless is a grungy lush affair that builds into distorted layers and dreamy vocals, it is reminiscent of The Breeders but is less direct. Corner Store unexpectedly u-turns from a jangly surf groove into the middle 8 of heavily distorted sludge and then back to the jangles again. High Rise sounds like a Spaghetti western via the Portland riot grrl college scene of the 90’s. Soup is a hypnotic lullaby that manages to build into a grungy mayhem whilst keeping an Elliot Smith style vocal intimacy, drawing us in one at a time “come over to my place I’ll help find your fix” yes, please. There is a more than a laid-back American slacker rock vibe to most of the songs on Powerplant. A lush collection of off-kilter lullaby’s via various ports of 90’s alt rock.

The first album was a “Magnifying Glass” to a teenage girl’s head, but we all have to grow up eventually. Powerplant is closer to being a window. One unto their world; which inevitably has gotten broader. Life does get more complex with age, and this is really how I would describe the evolution on Girlpool’s second album. Go listen!

 

 

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