No flash-in-the-pan Brooklyn hype act – Vivian Girls are the real deal.
Chris Beanland 2009-09-04
At first glance, Vivian Girls look too cool for school. In your head you imagine that bassist Kickball Katy is the type of girl who’d let you take her for a drink at the quirkiest bar in town, but then never return your phone calls because she was at home listening to Sonic Youth records, baking novelty cupcakes and generally being aloof.
What a pleasant surprise, then, that as soon as the first bars of album opener Walking Alone at Night kick in you immediately put all prejudices to one side and are wrapped up in their warm world. For this tornado of a track is almost a classic, a thrashing indie-girl gem that reveals more layers with each listen. Not only is it a hook-heavy delight, it also has deft chords which revel in real emotion.
And from then on you know that this breezy trio is no flash-in-the-pan Brooklyn hype act – they are the real deal.
This record – their second studio album – continues in this mould, with 13 short songs that are far better than the sum of their minimal guitar-plus-bass-plus-drums parts. Cassie Ramone’s vocals are one of the keys to the all-female troupe’s success; they might seem sweet, but her voice work and way with words shape these songs into proper packages.
The sonic territory which the three explore has been charted before, and those familiar with Sleater-Kinney or The Shangri-Las (for whom Vivian Girls express a particular love) will certainly feel like they’ve already heard this kind of thing done a thousand times over.
But who are we to deny this trio the fun they’ve clearly had trawling through crates of vinyl at record shops in New York’s trendier districts? Although there is a clear retro aesthetic at work here, what’s most important is that this is an immensely fun, albeit brief, listen.