CD Review: Share the Joy

Vivian Girls [Polyvinyl Records]

Polyvinyl Records/Courtesy

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Vivian Girls - Share the Joy

Dominique Brillon discusses tracks from the Vivian Girls' latest album.

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If you had to classify Vivian Girls' third and latest album, Share the Joy, it would be fairly easy: It's like listening to a '60s girl pop group experimenting with a bunch of atonal feedback. Done.

So why care? Share the Joy stands as a forum for the band to test the boundaries of structure and emotional depth. The Brooklyn-based trio have more of an appreciation for form, but lose a bit of their beloved flashy, raucous sound that distinguished their 2008 self-titled first album.

Previous fans will be hooked by the band's mix of auditory chaos with their exploration between layers of vulnerability and reckless self-assurance. These new tracks offer carefree, danceable tambourine beats reminiscent of their other albums. To counterbalance their past peppy bursts of sound, the band wades into slightly darker, dissonant waters with lead singer Cassie Ramone's haunting voice and lyrics. However, some of the work gets repetitive and stuck in this new emotional rut, and loses the band's signature spontaneity.

The first track, "The Other Girls," has a distinctive adolescent whine accompanying lyrics "I don't wanna be like the other girls." (They are like other girls.) Much of their current work is inspired by female bands of yore, especially heard in the exuberant "Take It as It Comes." The song pays tribute to the Shangri-Las, with interrupting dialogue of ironic teenaged exasperation: "Should I call Johnny?/What else to do?/Alone on a Saturday night." Ramone's breathy vocals in this song have been refined to a pitchyness that no longer sounds untrained, but is much more of a stylistic choice.

Share the Joy doesn't push the envelope of Vivian Girls' musical creativity, but reveals the ladies' interest in trying something new for themselves, even if it's a style already tested and perfected by other bands before them. It's a good album; it just doesn't break much ground for the entire history of music - but who says you have to do that? This is an album for the band itself, and if their fans are comfortable to explore what the band can do - even if it's just great imitation - then Vivian Girls have done their job.

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