Thursday 9 June 2022

At Request: Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost (2011 True Panther)

This is probably the longest text about an album that I've posted here (and it's already shortened a bit), but it's perhaps the most apt description of an album ever here.

Very briefly my opinion about this second album of ''Girls'': For me it is perhaps the best album of the last ,at least, ten years in the field of pop music. I think the album has an emotional depth in the songs that you rarely hear in its entirety over almost an entire album. One should not, but one must listen to the album several times. A real 'wow' album. Enjoy.(Frank)

Christopher Owens

Review by Zachary Houle,

Owens and his band mate Chet “JR” White have utterly surpassed themselves with the cosmic Father, Son, Holy Ghost. By and large, the duo sets its sights now not so much on the sun-drenched druggy ‘60s, but at the pomp and bombast of the ’70s, which, with all of the advances in musicianship and studio trickery (let’s ignore the contribution of punk for a moment, shall we?), might just emerge as the most interesting decade in pop music. There are moments on this new album that point backwards to not only glam rock but the progressive sounds of monster ‘70s groups, the most notable and noticeable being that of Pink Floyd somewhere between Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. And yet, there are zig-zaggy detours into something forlorn and spacious, such as in the case of the bluntly-titled “Die”, which starts out as a replica of something in the Sweet or Badfinger catalog and gradually transforms into a Mellotron drenched mediation that is as soft and gentle as dew on a sunflower. “Forgiveness” crosses acoustic rock with the bombast of ‘70s prog-cum-classical music stage acts like Electric Light Orchestra. There are dips as well into Eagles-style country rock in the form of “Saying I Love You” just to rattle the cage.

Still, despite the infatuation with all things out of the Me Decade, there are still hints of the ‘60s to be found on Father, Son, Holy Ghost, most notably on the rollicking surf-rock-derived opening track “Honey Bunny” (a nod to Pulp Fiction, perhaps?), which merges Beach Boys-style melodies (in fact, the verses of the song sound suspiciously a lot like the verses to “Fun, Fun, Fun”) with a careening reverb-heavy Dick Dale-like guitar sound that embodies the thick timbre of someone playing a Les Paul made out of a telephone pole. “Just a Song”, meanwhile, reaches back eons with its lovely minor key classical guitar theatrics that gradually blossoms into a lush orchestrated stab at ‘60s baroque pop before backtracking to the song’s original Spanish roots with strings adorned in the last third.

The beauty of Father, Son, Holy Ghost is largely found in its soft underbelly: a mid-section selection of songs that almost makes the hairs on the back of your neck bristle. Starting with “My Ma”, the fifth song on the record, the vibe turns utterly stoner rock: it’s the sort of slow jam that you’d want to take a mushroom trip to with its touch of George Harrison inspired slide guitar and soulful backing female vocals cooing as though they’ve been teleported in from the bag of tricks conjured up by a couple of Britons who go by the names Roger Waters and David Gilmour. The unfortunately titled, but stark “Vomit” continues even further in that vein — another gradual crawl of a ballad that is full of theatrical prog rock touches. The aforementioned “Just a Song” completes this loose trilogy of middle-of-the-record ballad wizardry, though it could be argued that the gorgeous “Forgiveness”, which follows a scant two songs later, could be loosely considered a part of this trifecta.

Father, Son, Holy Ghost is a record about not being able to profess desire to the one you admire, the feeling of letting down those who are close to you, and begging for redemption from those that you have. It’s as though Owens has locked himself in a darkly lit room to emote his particular yearning. “How I can I say I love you? / Now that you’ve said I love you?” intones Owens on “Saying I Love You”, following that up later with “There goes my everything” at his in inability to articulate a basic tenement of being in a relationship, while the guitars in the solo do exactly that: articulate themselves in the literal musical terminology sense in the form of gently plucked staccato notes. The irony. A song later, Owens exhaustively muses “Oh God, I’m tired / My heart is broken / … I’m so lost / I’m out here in darkness”. It’s as though Owens is carrying a heavy bag on his shoulders, and just when you think the bleakness is about to break, things only get starker from there. “Vomit” carries the weightiness of “Nights I spend alone / I spend them running around looking for you, baby” — a sentiment that he has to repeat twice in the verse, which reoccurs as the de facto statement of fact throughout the song, as though Owens is in a state of perpetual confusion and can’t believe the state of loneliness he’s finally achieved. By “Just a Song”, Owens swirls even darker into despair: “It just feels like it’s gone, oh it’s gone, gone away / Seems that nobody’s happy now / Feels like nobody’s happy now”.

However, things are bright, shiny and new by the time the next song, “Magic”, rolls around, opening with the sunny, “Just a look was all it took / Suddenly I’m on the hook / It’s magic / … I feel like starting anew”. By the time you get to “Forgiveness” there’s a lingering sense of deliverance in the proceedings: “Nothing’s gonna get any better / If you don’t have a little hope / If you don’t have a little love / In your soul”. Ultimately, there’s a thematic underpinning to the whole of Father, Son, Holy Ghost that provides a richly dark and brooding emotional heft that eventually coalesces into something hopeful and transcendent, before plunging back into lovelorn depths of despair for final song “Jamie Marie”, another ode to falling back out of love. Seemingly, the songs are so unified, you walk away from the record wondering if it was written in order.

Unlike past Girls’ outings, Father, Son, Holy Ghost is bracingly immediate, a collection of songs that don’t have to grow on you — songs that are fully realized and lovable at first blush. While the album’s second half doesn’t really reach the dizzying heights set by the first seven or so songs — the group delivers a bit of a dud with the treacly doo-wop meets ‘60s soul of “Love, Like a River” as the penultimate statement and final ballad “Jamie Marie” is a bit underwhelming in addition, making the case that the album, at 11 cuts, is maybe two songs too long — the record is generally consistent, engaging and hauntingly beautiful. 

With Album, the Broken Dreams Club EP and now Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the band has delivered their own version of a Holy Trinity: two albums and an extended play that merit constant attention and examination. With this long player (and long player is an apt description as it runs about an hour in length), Girls have delivered a reflective, pensive and low-key love letter to styles and genres that have long since fallen by the wayside, but are apt for rediscovery and admiration. Given that the group is only a few albums into their discography, the following sentiment might be a little premature in the making, but this latest disc really seems to cement the notion that the collective combination of the songsmiths Owens and White simply cannot do no wrong, that all of that time spent kept away from the pleasures of modern music, at least in one member’s case, has simply fostered an entity that is bemused and bedazzled with the charms of the past’s reflective prism.

Flac (zippy)                                                         Flac (M)

mp3 (zippy)                                                         mp3 (M)

                                pass: SB1


  1. Danke Frank für die feine unbekannte Pop Band. Ich freue mich immer besonders wenn du neuere Bands bringst. Die kenne ich meistens auch nicht. Musik die gute Stimmung macht.

  2. Replies
    1. Hallo Josef,
      das erste Album, daß auch so heißt - ''Album'' - ist auch gut, aber für mich kann es mit ''Father, Son, Holy Ghost'' aber nicht so ganz mithalten, weil es auch ein anderes Gefühl vermittelt.
      Schönes Wochenende, Josef!

  3. Girls Album habe ich. Diese hast du
    in einem deiner Blogs schon gebracht. Langsam verliert man die Übersicht.

  4. yes! you got it....thanks for honoring the request......!

  5. Thank you very much!!! Best music


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