The Big Guns have fallen silent fairly quiet on the release-front this year after a mammoth 2010. Only Jay-Z and Kanye have churned out an entertaining free-for-all while The Strokes’ just continue to free fall. But despair not, that’s merely left the field open for the young pretenders, for the new generation to get some attention. The Cults, Fleet Foxes, Fucked Up and Bon Iver have all produced excellent second albums in 2011 as the US continues to lead the way.
A latest release merely confirms it. Father, Son, Holy Ghost by Girls is the follow-up to their 2009 debut. Despite hailing from San Francisco and formerly playing with Ariel Pink, Girls have a brooding, meandering take on life and love. Bon Iver famously wrote an album in a wooden shack about the break up of a relationship. Owens takes it further here pulling out all the romanticism anyone could muster.
Owens’ back story needs quick explanation for its evident in his lyrics. He grew up in the Children of God cult, a collection of hippy ‘colonies’ emphasising spirituality and free love to the hippiest degree. As a consequence, Owens’ song-writing is marked by his openness which could sound a touch mopey to the un-informed.
He gives a lot of himself away in his lyrics, risks being laughed, putting feelings before reality without fear. He reminds you of the great and lost Elliott Smith. Despite this, its actually pretty uplifting and joyous, like you’ve hit rock bottom and you’ve decided to go up.
Musically its close to the ridiculous at times with gospel singing and organs, like a moody Beach Boys or Fleetwood Mac. Stand-out tunes include the breezy opener Honey Bunny, Alex, Jamie Marie (yes he still sings about girls who got away), Forgiveness and the epic Vomit.
Owens’ extravagant self-generosity never becomes a burden. You simply develop an appreciation of someone who isn’t closed and knows he can’t make it on his own. A real emotive and sort of happy album.