“Hello, I’m a teenager. Things aren’t great, but they’re brilliant when I lie on the beach and get drunk by a makeshift driftwood fire with my friends.”
Girls – Album
Borrowing heavily from early Beatles and all of The Everly Brothers, Girls’ debut is something that feels like a landmark; the kind of record you’ll be telling your grandchildren about if your grandchildren happened to care about music their parents are too young to remember (just me? Ok). Frontman/songwriter Christopher Owens has a truly dreadful back-story. He grew up in the Children of God cult where his father died and his mother was forced to be a prostitute; he then escaped and lived on the streets for a while until he was taken in by a rich Texan millionaire. The two of them moved to San Francisco where young Christopher discovered marijuana and hallucinogens. The record that he and friend Chet White has put out though alludes very little towards his tragic former life and instead focuses on the more universal home truths of love, teenage hedonism and friendship. It’s not the most original record in the world, wearing its influences and heart on its sleeve, but it’s something very special indeed: emotionally intense, never indulging in self-pity. When it’s feeling miserable about its situation, the moping never lasts. ‘Hellhole Ratrace’ starts with woe-is-me verses that every teenager needs to hear and ends with a wonderful emotional leg-up that they need even more: “I don’t wanna cry my whole life through, yeah I wanna do some laughing too, so come on and laugh with me.” Owens’s voice is not for some; it’s been called a whiny Elvis Costello a couple of times, but if you can get past it, this is an album to treasure. If you’re just starting college (or “high school” if you’re one of these Americans I’ve heard so much about), this record may well be how you will remember it; the frequent screw-ups, the uncommon joys, the pointless love interests and the friends who got you through it all.