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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Vivian Girls
Vivian Girls
In The Red

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 30, 2008
A Google search for the phrase "vivian girls" will most likely point you toward the direction of the Brooklyn band who formed a little more than a year ago and not the artwork of prolific recluse Henry Darger, from whose work the band derived its name. While Google technology proves more people are interested in the band than in characters created by Darger, it does not link the two in any meaningful way. At least on the Internet, the continued popularity of Brooklyn's Vivian Girls will further obscure the art of Henry Darger. What does it mean that what is happening now is more important than what came before?

It's a question that the band's self-titled album can hopefully answer. Reissued on In the Red after its initial pressing on the tiny Mauled By Tigers label sold out in ten days, Vivian Girls is a now record that sounds recent even if it's not necessarily timely. At a time when Internet buzz can make the latest bands seem like old news, listening to Vivian Girls is still exciting even after many times through; the band do not create something new so much as something now.

Songs straddle the line between familiar and fresh. "Such a Joke" begins with a bass line reminiscent of a Pixies song before turning into a Vivian Girls song and by the second song on the record it becomes apparent what a Vivian Girls song sounds like. Despite the obvious reference points of surf, 60s girl groups, and indie lo-fi cassette labels, no influence is more important than what the band does with it. The ten tracks on Vivian Girls don't stray too far from each other in form, but further listens separate the sounds of snare, reverb and pep into quick punk bursts of twee-inspired pop.

"Tell The World" drops girl group vocals on top of a driving surf beat; it's a song that is simultaneously crushing and uplifting. The effect is reminiscent of the B-52's minus Fred Schneider. Otherworldly in its beauty, the song reaches for elation but ultimately sounds defeated. Lines like "Keep it to myself no way/ He knows what I know/ He feels what I feel/ I'll tell the world about the love that I found" are delivered with out-and-out deadpan. As emotions mix, complexity is buried beneath surface simplicity. The theme appears elsewhere on the record, as no song is ever what it seems. Tracks like "Damaged," "No," "Never See Me Again," and "I Believe in Nothing," are more heartwarming than heartbreaking. At 22 minutes, Vivian Girls is a record of refreshing tightness, but revisiting the record reveals a world of Henry Darger-like depth.

In the B-52's song "52 Girls," the line goes "These are the girls of the USA/ The principle girls of the USA/ Can you name, name, name, name them today?" Vivian Girls is the sound of now. Punchy, washed-out pop that is consistent, listenable, and repeatable. The principle girls that get top billing on Google searches, they're the band you can name, name, name. But only for today.

Reviewed by Joseph Coombe
A contributing writer who lives and works in Los Angeles, Joseph Coombe is searching for Jon Landauís future of rock and roll by rereading Lester Bangs and unreading Greil Marcus.

See other reviews by Joseph Coombe

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