Even if done deliberately, an uneven record is still an uneven record.
Andrzej Lukowski 2009
With its crayoned arrows, cover photo of an apple-pie-cute little girl dressed as a cowboy, and a declaration that The Yearling was “brought to you by... the number three and the letter P”, Piney Gir’s third album gives you fair warning that this is unlikely to be the most grown-up listen of your life.
Keen Gir-watchers will know that toy instruments, songs about dogs and almost childishly direct lyrics have long been part of her arsenal, but still, there are moments on The Yearling when you kind of wonder if she’s actually alright, so determined is the regression.
“I’ve got a present for you, it’s made from paper and glue, I made it when I had the flu,” she chirrups on Blithe Spirit, a song that name checks the Moldy Peaches and sounds somewhat like an episode of Sesame Street gone a bit wrong, odd electronic burbles and half-heard footfalls gradually detracting from the pathologically chipper main melody.
It sets a pattern: almost infantile opening bars later salvaged by Gir and production duo The Age of Reason’s way with a weird sound effect – creaky doors, Tupperware and “real, live buzzy bees” are all noted as instruments. So we have Not Your Anything, which manages to sound like an Avril Lavigne ballad for its first half, yet winds up in an unfeasibly beautiful whirl of skittering beats and cut-up strings; Blixa Bargeld’s Bicycle begins like the world’s most insufferably kooky show tune, but concludes with an ambient passage that is, if anything, far too short. It’s a very peculiar state of affairs, a strategy eminently better suited to winning a football match than writing a pop song.
That Gir is clearly doing this intentionally is both frustrating and perversely admirable, but the simple fact is that the best tracks are the ones which are good all the way through: the radiantly empathic torch song There Was a Drunk; the strangled, glitchy Lion (I am One); the foreboding Tex-Mex canter of Oleanna. Unfortunately, even if done deliberately, an uneven record is still an uneven record.