Review: Girlpool - What Chaos Is Imaginary

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Girlpool

What Chaos Is Imaginary

On their third LP, L.A. duo Girlpool takes a sharp departure from their signature sound, mixing gritty rock instrumentation with dreamy synths, with wondrous results.

★★★★

For the past six years, LA Folk duo Girlpool’s music has focused on the delicate harmonies between the two vocalists, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad. On their third record ‘What Chaos Is Imaginary’ though, there has been a clear shift in musical style as well as Tucker coming out as transgender (which consequently has lowered his vocal tones) means the record heads off in new and exciting directions. It may be different but the record is no less sublime.

There’s an increased amount of angst and a heavier sound to the instrumentation this time around. Take for example ‘Hire’ which starts out a melancholic, mellow pace before gradually moving into a cacophony of guitar riffs surrounding Tucker’s vocals. Its instrumental outro wouldn’t be amiss on an early Oasis demo. ‘Pretty’ another early track also embraces a surprising and exciting grittiness, in this case in its growling choruses.

That’s not to say the duo’s traditional relaxed folk sounds have disappeared, they’re still ever-present on the record. ‘Hoax and the Shrine’ is a beautiful, lullaby styled ballad that highlights Trividad's gentle tones. It's these solo tracks which really showcase each members individual talents. However, now when the duo comes together and harmonises there's a clear contrast between the pair, adding a welcome and fresh dimension to their sound.

It's a testament to the duo that the record meshes together so well, the fact that ‘Hoax’ can effortlessly and naturally fade into the rock orientated ‘Swamp and Bay’. Throughout the album traditional rock riffs fade into new wave synths, its reminiscent of Wolf Alice’s spectacular ‘Visions Of A Life’ especially on the epic and sprawling title track ‘What Chaos Is Imaginary’. a progressive ethereal folk song in which you’re completely transfixed by Trividad’s heavenly vocals as the synth-infused string instrumental progressively grows into a dreamscape finale.

We often lament bands that change their sound. Girlpool’s latest record, however, feels like a natural growth and their most impressive release yet. Their boldness to experiment with their own style and break out of their comfort zone has led to wondrous results. There are still various elements that are reminiscent of why we fell in love with the duo in the first place but they're surrounded by exciting new soundscapes and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the pair.