Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Girls Come Too - Still Life Still (No Ripcord Review)

Girls Come Too

Still Life Still
Arts & Crafts Records.

No Ripcord Review: 8
SCQ Rating: 80%

I like the idea of carpet burns and shower curtains and cum towels, you know? I like to find the beauty in all that, the poetry in all that. That's what I like to write about, the fights, the humanity, the breath, the sound of the breath. I find something glorious about that.” – Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene, Pitchfork Interview, 2007.

One listen through Still Life Still’s debut disc and off I went, rifling through dusty interviews on the web in search of what is re-printed above; namely, a keyhole into Kevin Drew’s lovable dysfunction. This carnal yet romanced viewpoint, which contributed deeply to such BSS-oriented classics as ‘Lover’s Spit’, ‘It’s All Gonna Break’ and ‘TBTF’, has an unforgettable quality not easily sidestepped or ignored. Hell, the fact that I remembered the two-year-old interview in which this excerpt was borrowed should suggest as much. Yet it preludes this review not because Girls Come Too has found its home on the much-beloved Arts & Crafts label (which he co-founded) and not because Drew helped record and mix this debut (although he did). Instead, the ringleader’s quotation sprung to mind because Still Life Still – lyrically, musically, ideologically – encompasses Drew’s visceral raison d’etre. These are sweat-soaked bottle-shards that adequately illustrate an undying lust, one that cuts itself for pleasure, and then cuts again for wanting it.

Of course, as aggressive and impetuous as this East York outfit sound, we’re talking Arts & Crafts, not hardcore punk, and these songs perfectly adhere to the Toronto-based label’s shimmering indie-rock paradigms. ‘Flowers and a Wreath’ draw clear parallels to the spacious mid-tempos and poetic rants of Spirit If…, while ‘Planet’ drifts post-coitus casual, layering bittersweet vocal refrains with the latent urgency of ‘Shampoo Suicide’. Yah sorry, there’s no escaping the Broken Social Scene comparisons; Girls Come Too evokes the collective’s more straight-forward leanings but puts their own cathartic stamp on it with dense, go-for-broke jams and, well, a heavy dose of eroticism. In other words, if you had a beer for every time vocalist Brendon Saarinen sang about sex, you’d be en route to hospital by the record’s last third. What pushes this hormonal preoccupation to the point of aural pornography is ‘T-shirts’, a track that helps distinguish the band from their Arts & Crafts colleagues at the risk of polarizing fans with lyrics like “If you don’t mind my cum on your tits / then I don’t mind your blood on my dick”. Now I don’t take issue with the lyrics so much as how they’re the foundation of a song that is basically a repeated chorus. As a two-minute rush of shock-me-now triggers, ‘T-shirts’ comes dangerously close to a demo or, worse, a gimmick, one that would tarnish Girls Come Too if the other ten songs didn’t stand on their heads the way they do. ‘Knives in Cartoons’ drives a spikier rhythm over dance-ready percussion while ‘Wild Bees’ is the morning-after reflection, offering acoustic details and a touch of dew-eyed sentiment.

Ultimately Still Life Still transcends by disguising their gorgeously moody jams behind “shower curtains and cum towels”, a strategy that first grabs listeners’ attention with lyrical jabs, but eventually unveils an instrumental tenderness that undercuts their sex-stained veneer. Girls Come Too is an orgasm for the heart and proof that while these songs are ideal for the hotheaded, almighty present, this band is looking well beyond the one-night stand. As longtime romantic Kevin Drew can attest, this band is too damned bright to get completely lost in their libidos.

(This review was originally published on No Ripcord... )

No comments: