20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Vivian Girls’ Everything Goes Wrong by JohnCassillo
September 8, 2009, 8:29 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , ,

VIvian Girls' Everything Goes Wrong delivers as solid sophomore effort

Vivian Girls' Everything Goes Wrong delivers as a solid sophomore effort

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Vivian Girls’ “Before I Start to Cry” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Internet hype-collectors Vivian Girls are three Brooklynites with a penchant for lo-fi garage goodness, and for playing an alarming number of songs in a short time. Their self-titled debut gained universal acclaim for its snappiness and fuzzy charm. That said, would their sophomore offering be doomed by months of online excitement?

Mercifully, the follow-up, Everything Goes Wrong, has them beating the buildup.  While their 2008 debut was ultra-hip, this offering improves upon its older sister in almost every way.

The word here is variety. Everything Goes Wrong is a pleasant exercise in structural, harmonic and rhythmic eclecticism, where Vivian Girls, at its worst, was a listenable but uninteresting stream of background buzz.

On the whole “The Desert” can easily compete with Vivian Girls standout “Where Do You Run To?” as the band’s best song.  Drummer Ali Koehler thankfully abandons her typical bass-snare stomp on many of the tracks for refreshing results such as the Motown-hearkening “Tension.” “Before I Start to Cry” also turns in the band’s twee-est offering to date.  (Sorry, girls, but twee comparisons hold up until you abandon your girl-group harmonies for something with a harder edge. Please don’t, by the way.)

There are also some clunkers. “Out for the Sun” runs a little too long for ts own good, but when a band releases a full-length that just exceeds a half-hour, it seems futile to skip a track only slightly worse than the rest of them.  Still, the album’s weaknesses are identifiably present when the Girls stop pushing themselves and slip back into their comfort zones.

Thankfully, Everything Goes Wrong proves that Vivian Girls recognize this trap and are slowly, but surely, overdriving their way out.  One can only hope that future offerings will be even more adventurous, while still retaining their humble origins.

— Kevin Hegedus

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