Why We Damn Sure Respect Girls, Even Though They Fetishize Stupid, Clichéd Love Songs
Never did decide how I felt about Girls' Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the San Francisco band's latest album, but I damn sure respect it.
Unlike so many of his peers, Christopher Owens has the chops and vision to pull off his nostalgia fetish; not just to approximate the sound of his forbears but approximate their songs, too. The problem is, an approximation is what it is. That can be intoxicating on its own: just for its accuracy, "Honey Bunny" is one of his many thrilling Beach Boys impressions. Though it switches angles a lot melodically, its hooks have a warm familiarity, down to the ending that repeats the final line three times: "And you'll be the girl that I love!"
What's so hard to process about Owens is how sincerely he loves clichés, one stacked on top of another until they become something that's not cliché: a pile of clichés that all stick out bizarrely. Six minutes of Spiritualized-style stoner gospel, complete with choir (wonder if they knew the track would be titled "Vomit"?). Seven minutes of cooing "love ... love ... love ... it's just a song" over a fucking flute. It's kind of funny.
In fact, it's pretty ridiculous. Owens and cohort scan so earnestly that reading it from the view of a normal person feels arch and almost cruel. After all, this guy survived a horrid childhood that took his mother and his innocence from him (he was in the Children of God cult). Who am I to tell him he can't fetishize stupid love songs salvaged from faded old records like mini-movies from a childhood he never had?
That childlike quality pops up in his sexuality ("Honey Bunny"), his longing ("Forgiveness"), and a simplicity with words that teeters on banal. His voice is barely existent and not very sweet. On his debut Album, it was actually loudly sour, evoking a snotty childishness on "Lust for Life" as he asks for a pizza and a boyfriend like he's talking to a genie. But filling his heart with old records feels more sympathetic than say, Jason Spaceman filling his arm with drugs.