Vivian Girls are less interesting as a band than as a reflection of Brooklyn’s robust DIY music scene, which revolves around a network of ramshackle venues and tireless promoters. More specifically, it’s a reflection of that scene’s clout: No other circuit could have elevated to national attention an act so bland.
Granted, the all-female trio’s tale is one of hard work and unerring dedication. They’ve performed hundreds of shows over the past couple of years, and earned their fans one half-empty basement at a time. During those early days—circa 2008—the band’s sound showed much promise: indebted to riot-grrrl acts like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, but dreamier and poppier than those bands ever were. So maybe call this one a case of arrested development, because Everything Goes Wrong, Vivian Girls’ second full-length, mostly shows how little the band has matured. Most of their songs sound the same—warbled three-part harmonies over three-chord strumming—and the slick production only highlights that lack of breadth. To paraphrase our president: You can bathe a pig in reverb, but it’s still a pig.