Vivian Girls: ‘Share the Joy’ Review

Artist: Vivian Girls
Album: Share the Joy
Label: Polyvinyl

Sometimes, there is a band or a record that makes you wish you were a teenager growing up in the 1950s or 60s. With their third full-length release, and first for indie powerhouse Polyvinyl Records, Brooklyn trio Vivian Girls have done just that with Share the Joy.

This effort finds the band leaving its lo-fi/punk roots just a little behind for a cleaner, more “musical” experience; the 10 song album is book ended by two tracks that each clock in over the six minute mark. Any connoisseur of traditional lo-fi rock can tell you, that’s about three times longer than the simple and standard two minute life most tunes in that genre get to live. The opening song, “The Other Girls,” showcases exactly what it is the trio is going for on Share the Joy; reverb-soaked guitar, simple melodies, and slightly flat singing (done intentionally, one would assume). The one aspect of the arrangement that may seem foreign to fans of the first two Vivian Girls releases is the two minutes or so guitarist/vocalist Cassie Ramone spends exploring the fretboard in a straight forward guitar solo. Perhaps they want to prove that musicianship, once thought to be the most overrated skill in playing in a punk band, is actually something worth trying to show off; or that after four years of playing together, they’ve finally gotten good enough at their instruments to throw a solo or two in here and there. Although the sonic themes remain throughout the entire album, the vibe will change from song to song. There is often a contrast between bright, sunny sounding tunes followed directly by something a bit more sullen; it’s like a rainy day at the beach when it’s partly sunny. “I Heard You Say” takes more of the latter mood, and is the first single off the album. Lyrically dealing with lost love, the sound of the song captures that exact aesthetic nicely. However, the song immediately following, “Dance (If You Wanna)” is the polar opposite in feel and mood. It conjures images of 50s high school dances and the teenage innocence that coincides with it. Aside from the first and last song, the rest of the tracks come in at the standard two to four minute range, so the lo-fi/punk purists can’t be too opposed to Vivian Girls exploring new ground. “Lake House” is probably the most “punk” sounding song on the album, and it (not coincidentally) stands out as one of the better songs on Share the Joy.

With the lo-fi scene becoming popular in indie music again, perhaps Vivian Girls felt the genre getting a bit stale, and branched out a little for this last release. It definitely makes the album more interesting than it otherwise would be. Sonically, the mid range stands out more so than anything else, making it be more accessible for fans of indie pop/rock. It’s as if they ditched some of the scuzz and traded it in for sun soaked reverb. Overall, it’s another good release for the summer season and should get plenty of rotation time between now and September.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Written by Brad Walker

[itunes link="http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-other-girls/id418155490?uo=4" title="Vivian_Girls-Share_the_Joy_(Album)" text="Share the Joy on iTunes"]

Share The Joy on Amazon

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