Vivian Girls — Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls

What with all the C86s and B-52’s flying about you could be forgiven for supposing critics were engaged in some kind of gigantic Battleship stand-off rather than indulging their more customary habit of reviewing records. And so it is with the reissue of latest blog sensations Vivian Girls’ introductory LP.

A first run for this most sought-after of self-titled debutantes appeared on the Mauled By Tigers imprint in July and sold out in ten days flat; now on board with neo-garage stalwarts In The Red, the band return to find themselves squabbled-over objects of desire as the resurgent interest in all things C86 reaches critical mass.

Gallingly, the Brooklyn trio are pleading innocence for the most part, claiming their original intention was to be in a really fast punk band and that their #1 influence comes courtesy of Greg Sage’s primitive shredding with cult underground outfit the Wipers. But as much as this sounds like the mitigating cry of self-conscious hipsters claiming ignorance, it’s useful in understanding Vivian Girls’ undoubted appeal.

For as much as there are moments on Vivian Girls that recall the Shop Assistants’ passive-aggressive streak or the formless rush of Tallulah Gosh’s more visceral numbers, they’re coupled with a guitar sound that’s gnarlier and more metallic than the wallflower jangle of C86. And the drums, while no doubt alluding to the inflectionless jamboree of those bands, are also possessed of a thumping intensity spiky enough to send the shrinking violets scarpering under their bunk beds.

Take opener ‘Falling Down’, which takes the head-lolling naivety of twee’s progenitors and scrubs it ‘til it’s bleeds. Or the literally buzz-inducing first single ‘Wild Eyes’ on which the band comes across like the Ennio Morriconettes of lo-fi indie pop. And then there’s ‘Tell The World’, whose capering, tribal edge earnestly recalls (there’s that name again) the early B-52’s.

C86 and its shambling ilk has of course been criticised for its blanching of the critical discourse at a time when hip-hop was in the ascendancy and green lighting successive generations of twindie berks wallowing in their own white suburban brand of muddle-headedness. But context is wishful thinking in 2008; prog and AOR are no longer critical anathema with the likes of Yeasayer and MGMT riding high, while hip-hop cannibalises its garish ‘80s phase for the amusement of hipster kids. And in any case Vivian Girls are sparkier than that, plus they have the best excuse going against a lack of originality: tunes by the boatload.

A nifty Chinese burn to the limp wrist of the nascent Re:86 subgenre, rifle through the giant record collection that informs Vivian Girls’ dead-eyed sensibility and you’ll find a beating heart all of their own.

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