Album Review: Girls, 'Father, Son, Holy Ghost'

93 Billboard Rating

GIRLS
"Father, Son, Holy Ghost"
Producers: Doug Boehm, JR White, Christopher Owens
True Panther/Matador
Release Date: Sept. 13

Girls' small but diverse discography is rapidly becoming as fascinating as the group's head-spinning back-story, which includes a cult, a rich benefactor and apparently copious amounts of drugs. The San Francisco-based band's home-made 2009 debut, "Album," was filled with huge hooks that verged on doofiness; last year's "Broken Dreams Club" EP found them rapidly maturing into musical adolescence, calmer and more seasoned. But with "Father, Son, Holy Ghost," the band has vaulted the equivalent of three albums ahead, taking the conciseness of the EP and confounding expectations, apparently following wherever frontman Christopher Owens' muse led. While the pop sensibility is still there, Owens' formerly exuberant singing often drops to an intimate, Neil Young-ish near-whisper and the band meanders off into neo-prog-rock excursions. The sound is loaded with several generations of influences - from Pink Floyd and Bowie to Spiritualized and the Flaming Lips - but is deeply steeped in the early '70s; this album could have been made at any point in the past 40 years. The songs are all over the map but highlights include the poppy "Magic," the '50s-infuenced "Love Like a River" and especially the album's centerpiece, the majestic "Vomit," which goes from paranoid introspection to "Dark Side of the Moon" grandiosity inside six minutes.

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