That Christopher Owens’ backstory doesn’t eclipse his songs is a testament to his gift. The vocalist and lyricist behind the San Francisco duo Girls grew up in the twisted arms of the Children Of God cult, an upbringing resulting in a serious disconnect from the good things in life. Which is why it makes sense that much of his golden-era, Californian pop songs are about things like wanting to kiss the girl, or holding on tight to reasons for smiling.
The album-opening “Lust For Life” is a playfully strummed, conversational trip down a wishlist of sorts (pizza, father, sanity, beach house, fresh start). It’s also a perfect, devastatingly honest song played out in a clinical two and a half minutes. With “Hellhole Ratrace” Owens and bassist Chet “J.R.” White sublimate a diary page into a seven-minute pill trip/epic manifesto. Though moving, it also recycles a chord progression heard previously in “Ghostmouth.” Elsewhere, “Morning Light” repeat offends, coming across like a carbon copy of Sonic Youth’s “Mote.” In that light, it’s better to approach Album not as what its title offers, but a collection of singles. These are the new rock ’n’ roll 45s, variations of the same sad pop song shone through the prism of a guy who’s survived his own unique heartache.