Record of the Week

Girlpool „Before the World Was Big“


„Before the World Was Big“

We at kaput slightly ignored this album, not because we find it to be uninteresting, on the country: Sure Thing, Girlpool are a textbook example of a likable duo, and after last years tender Riot-Grrrl-inspired EP, with hits like “Slutmouth” and “American Beauty”, nothing but a super sweet banger of a record could follow.

Or? “Before the World Was Big” is super sweet by all accounts. It’s not so much a banger, at least not in the sense of “bangy” or “full of banging effects”. Rather lo-fi-diary-riot. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad hail from Los Angles, but after having spent “their whole lives” there they couldn’t stand it anymore, and moved to Philadelphia. Now they are 19 years old, and sill have their whole lives ahead of them, as my grandma would say. Tucker and Tividad play guitar, and bass, and a couple of toy instruments, no drums. Musically they are ranged somewhere between early Breeders during “Pod” and Kimya Dawson’s complete works. The songs are rather strummy drafts,  then fully developed compositions. But like I said, the two of them have a loft of future lifetime ahead of them, and apart from that they probably aren’t really interested in epic mainstream pop (cf.: Florence + the Machine) anyways.

“Before the World Was Big” impresses with astounding backwards-looking, which is the typical attitude of pre-twens, wanting to look back on your childhood- and teenage-days, in this strange inbetween-time before becoming a grown up. Kind of like taking stock. Or to sing about what it was like when you played outside in “matching dresses”, where you rand around a “million trillion times”, back then before the world was big. That’s amazing and peculiar at the same time, especially for listeners who already unwound a couple of teenage-life-cycles. Girlpool “are bringing me back that feeling” (cheesy ad slogan of an Hessian oldies-radio station), but I’m not sure if I want that perennially:

„And all those passing feelings
they never told me what they meant
my eyes are swollen full of people I’ve met“

And yet the window to my own youth got blown open again, thank’s a lot, I’d rather not go back there again. Sure, Girlpool are actually great, especially the slightly distorted opener “Ideal World, where they chewily bored are singing: „now I’m only certain that no one is free / tranquilize me with your ideal world“. Or the letter in form of a song to their friend Nora that got probably never sent: „there’s a lot that changed this year / I’m still thinking ’bout swimming in Seattle“: that is hesitant, washed-out-blurred, but still crystal clear – something is passing by forever right now. “Harmony is hyper”.
In short: Girlpool are having my full and unrestricted support, but I’m not really feeling at ease in their presence (anymore). I’m going to knock next door, at Sleater-Kinney’s.
Christina Mohr

No, I’m not the biggest fan of Simon Reynolds and his book “Retromania”. To me someone, who writes a nice song, that theoretically could have been written in the last 10 to 50 years, is a more flattering ambassador of human kind, than someone who writes tiresome detailed lamentations about the fact, that no one creates new stuff anymore. Doesn’t Reynolds hail from punk, D.I.Y., ingenious amateurs and so on? He should just grab an instrument and try for himself. Then he might see how hard it is.

Ok, I wander from the subject I haven’t even touched yet. Girlpool are two juveniles, who sing about juvenile things, to music, that arose when I was a juvenile myself. I have to admit that I’m a bit disturbed by that. Just as Brits and Americans are separated by a witticism of I don’t remember anymore through the same language, I’m  separated from these juveniles achingly by the same music. That is because of the consciousness, that this music means something different to then, than it does to me.To me this music once was “new and exciting” (Die Heiterkeit), and to Girlpool it was always there, just like punk, blues, or waltz, one of many layers of cooled stone. But I sense right now, that that is actually just my problem, that potentially might not be as entertaining to others.

So Girlpool, third shot, they do not simply sound like a certain time, or a certain genre, but quite precisely like a certain band, to be specific Breeders. How does one sound like Breeders? One person plays very slow eighth notes on the guitar (not to many strings at once). The other person plays synchronous, but not in unison. bass to this. Then both sing along with voices and accents that are not too far from the Deal-sisters, in considerably bigger voice ranges, once again synchronous, but not in unison. Their arrangements are harmoniously and otherwise not as clever, but that isn’t too bad, because it is over long before the loveliness has a chance to bore you. The quick evanescence of this ten short songs short record goes nicely with he coming of age-lyrics, which breath this innocent melancholia (or boisterous serenity) only teenagers can do. “Dear Nora for example, is prose about summer and friendship written in form of a letter, that could easily form the emotional counterpart of a season of “Girls”. In short: The record lives up to what its title promises.
Jens Friebe

Translation: Denise Oemcke

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