Girlpool's 'Powerplant': A New Twist on the Punk Energy We Know and Love
    • TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2017

    • Posted by: Caroline Bojarski

    I wish my best friend and I were as cool as Cleo Tucker and Harmony Trividad of Girlpool. The tight-knit duo released their second full-length album, Powerplant, on May 12, and their sophomore creation is both a significant style change and an extension of the qualities that drew fans to Girlpool when Before the World was Big dropped in 2015.

    The most dramatic innovation for Girlpool on Powerplant is the addition of Miles Wintner on drums. In the past, bassist Harmony Trividad said that she and Cleo felt their lyrics could be better emphasized in places by the heavier, more driving sound Wintner adds to the band. These dramatic accents are evident on the chorus of standout track, "It Gets More Blue" in which Tucker and Trividad's voices shout a harmonious warning about the consequences of romanticizing and glorifying a relationship. Rising drum beats and dissonant guitar chords also punctuate the verse, "You'll build him a tower, he'll burn you a bridge," but this is such a wise gem of a lyric that I would have found an excuse to put it in this review even without this relevant tie-in.

    Powerplant has received mild criticism for its departure from the minimalist sound that distinguished Before the World was Big, an album built entirely by Tucker and Trividad's vocals, bass, and guitar. Some feel that the drums interfere with the lyrical intimacy Girlpool achieved on their first album and diminish the alluring, us-against-the world impression created by Tucker and Trividad's relatively unadorned voices. Despite this, the addition of drums gave Girlpool's lyrics an extra kick without sacrificing intimacy. At times, the abstract lyrics create the impression that listeners aren't meant to understand what Girlpool is saying. On the chorus of the title track, Tucker and Trividad enigmatically sing, "Working by the power plant Jonathan's a ladder / Watching all the billboards change into / A mirror image of his lifted thought." This verse, among others, contributed to the impression that, by listening to this album, I was reading through a journal full of poetry that was not written to be shared. Whether you like the more fleshed out sound on Girlpool's sophomore album or not, the band is extremely young, with much room for experimentation, and it's exciting to see that they are willing to take risks and evolve.

    Despite changes, the best elements of Girlpool are still prominent in their second album. The duo offer sweet and soothing harmonies, as in the opening lines of "Fast Dust" as well as pure punk moments such as the slow buildup to a stridently shouted "Can you feel it?!" preceding the chorus to "Soup." Powerplant definitely steps up the punk/grunge factor hinted at in Before the World was Big, a change that suits Girlpool well. Catch the group on their one-month summer tour which kicked off in LA today and spans both coasts.

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