Girlpool – Before the World Was Big
Anybody hoping for a radical lurch into complex, richly-textured progressive rock on this full-length debut from Girlpool is going to be sorely disappointed.
Just like the self-titled EP that preceded it, there is – on the face of it, at least – almost nothing to Before the World Was Big. With percussion eschewed, it’s left to Harmony Tividad’s bass to pick up the low-end slack; Cleo Tucker, meanwhile, tailors her usually sparing use of the guitar to suit the mood. Ultimately, though, the L.A. duo place vocals first and everything else second; it was always going to be their harmonic interplay that formed the crux of their first record.
It works, too, with consistency and cohesion. Chinatown is a beautiful account of anxiety and self-esteem issues – “If I loved myself, would I take it the wrong way?” – and Dear Nora, framed by flickers of warping and wefting guitar, shines a sentimental light upon life within the band. Crowded Stranger might be the highlight; the tale it spins of claustrophobia and isolation is smartly matched by the instrumentation. There’s absolutely nothing wasted on Before the World Was Big; Girlpool are testament to the fact that you can be precise and heartfelt at the same time. [Joe Goggins]