Album: Father, Son and Holy Ghost

Artist: Girls

Year: 2011


The trick of good music lies in the fact that every new song is built upon some music that already exists.  There are only so many notes, so many chords and so many ways to bang a drum.  The goal is not to come up with some completely new scale or discover a note that no one has ever heard.  The aim of most great artists to use all the pieces of the past and cobble them together into something new.

On Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the new release from the San Francisco based band, Girls, there are clear influences of Buddy Holly-esque 50’s structures, 90’s era indie a la Wilco, and a host of other familiar sounds.  What makes this a great album is the fact that Girls aren’t content to merely copy sounds of the past.  Father, Son and Holy Ghost arranges and mixes these musical ideas into their own symphony, a satisfying experience of an album that is both comforting in its familiarity but exciting in its freshness.

Opening with “Honey Bunny”, a track that is indebted to Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers for both its title and its sound,  the album bounces through its first few tracks in happy, retro/indie bliss, before changing gears into the slow, powerful and delicate “Vomit”, and intimate little track about love and loss that pulls the listener in without ruining the momentum of the album.

The rest of the album goes back and forth between bouncing retro sounds and quieter, deeper tracks that verge on weepy, but are never too precious.  Tracks like “Forgiveness” and the album’s closer, “Jamie Marie” are almost heartbreaking, taking the album from its bubbly opening to a dramatically emotional close.

Father, Son and Holy Ghost takes the listener on a full emotional journey, one that leaves them slightly exhausted, but thoroughly satisfied.  Girls didn’t hold anything back on this album and listening to the full LP from start to finish gives me great hope that this band will continue to push the envelope of what we think when we hear “retro” or “derivative.”  It’s a totally enjoyable listen and an album worth listening to a few or more times.  This may just be one of the best albums of the year.