Throwing blanket assumptions onto bands are always something that can irk and irritate bands and fans alike. But good golly am I about to envelop Girlpool, in an Ikea double duvet sized set of LOVE. This Wichita released debut album ‘Before The World Was Big’ from LA kickabouts Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad captures life through a fishbowl camera lense with soft lighting.
The key theme underpinning BTWWB is relativity. The lyrics on opener ‘Ideal World’ befit life in LA just as much as it would here in the somewhat colder city of London. Over an incredibly simple melody, we get an insight into the mind of Girlpool, “I thought I found myself today/no one noticed/things are ok”. Late teenagerdom and early adult are so fraught with daily existential crises and personal discovery that it can be a thoroughly exhausting experience, but when set to music, somehow everything feels like an episode of The OC.
It feels a tad nosy listening to ‘Dear Nora’, as if the collective Girlpool diary has been left out unintentionally. This track would be what you would find, set in page after page of hand-scrawled ink, documenting life as it happens. The redution in tempo echoes the slow ebbing away of self-confidence that comes with young womanhood. Whilst not outrightly preaching a message of self-love, BTWWB is instead a supportive hand for you to hold in moments of self-doubt.
‘Crowded Stranger’ is the jewel in the Girlpool crown, the addition of reverb and an extra guitar give the vocals the platform they need to deliver the OOMPH WHAM BAM moment every cracking album deserves. There are such sublte yet powerful messages embedded and dotted throughout BTWWB and here the gloomy “everybody always makes me feel the same” idea calls in to question the idea we are fed as young women that our knight in shining armour is forever on the horizon. Well I am here to tell you that 1. Screw the knight in shining armour, be your own bae. and 2. That even if you think you’re not doing great, you really are, and me and Girlpool are here as your own personal cheer-squad so don’t text that person back, do take that killer selfie and do wear that outfit if it makes you feel cute and adorable.
Following on from that, we get to the sombre ‘Pretty’ which if it had an alternative title would be called ‘The Perks Of Being Needy’. Affection is great, get it when you crave it. ‘Pretty’ and follow-up ‘Emily’ signal that the record is drawing to a close. Tucker and Tividad harmonise together in a true sisterhood style, their twin spirits lifting one another up and above the grungey Seattle guitars that they weave so well.
The power of Girlpool is such that by the time closer ‘I Like That You Can’ trails away before your eyes, everything feels like it is going to be ok. Speaking about the process behind writing the album, Cleo and Harmony told of how their goal for the record was merely to get people to feel empowered. About what? They don’t mind, as long as you have fun doing it and the consistency of this message across the ten track chronicle is a little soul-saving. Sometimes we all need to be told that it’s all going to be ok. Before The World Was Big is that voice.
Words: Rachael Scarsbrook