Review: Girls, 14 October 2009

Rating (out of 5)
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San Francisco’s Girls seem to be so named after their unreachable objects of desire that just might make them whole. The duo of Christopher Owens and Chet J R White have recently released their first album, the invigoratingly titled “Album”, and filled it with anthems of almost grief-stricken longing set to music steeped in both the upbeat jangling of 60’s garage pop and the frazzled numbness of early 90’s shoegazing.

Singer Owens has had a troubled past. A nomadic childhood brought up within the Children of God cult followed by a drug-fuelled adolescence.

Yet despite dark undercurrents, the music of Girls is surprisingly hope-filled. It dreams and yearns for better tomorrows.

Tonight, playing to a capacity crowd of swooning boys and girls, the core duo of Owens and bassist/producer White are joined by eerie doppelgangers of themselves on drums and second guitar. Their songs sound fleshed out and tight, seamlessly cranking from number to number.

Despite the excellent group musicianship, it’s impossible to take one’s eyes off Owens. He hunches over his guitar, a dirty wash of blonde hair falling over his face, barely able to make eye contact with the audience. He looks such a fragile waif, an ashen-faced depressive Elf. You want to take him home and give him a good meal.

Although the music stays in mid-tempo for too long, a slow build in intensity leads to a positive rock-out finale before two final songs which seem to perfectly encapsulate Girls.

A sweet ditty about how love, with all its “kissing and a-hugging”, can just mean everything to someone is followed by a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End”.

It’s a fitting song for Girls, combining the delicate sound of aching teenage heartbreak with a wide-eyed optimism for something true and better to come. You can’t help hoping they find it.