Girlpool – ‘What Chaos Is Imaginary’ review

On album number three, LA duo Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad take a widescreen approach to their eclectic alt-pop, alternating between dreamy soundscapes, country jangle and cacophonous shoegaze

From their snarling punk-folk beginnings, the LA duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad have always carried a disarming honesty to their music. Across two albums, 2015’s ‘Before The World Was Big’ and ‘Powerplant’ in 2017, Girlpool have nestled themselves in a cosy twee-pop corner of light grunge nostalgia and teenage kitchen sink melodrama.

‘What Chaos Is Imaginary’ has a certain graceful maturity, more so than those previous records, with a laissez-faire slacker rock easy flow that Mac DeMarco fans will enjoy and some inverted alt-folk balladry, delivered with a Jesus & Mary Chain knack for crystalline shoegaze on a cinematic scale – albeit brought into a focus by crisp percussion and shimmering production.

I thought I looked with both my eyes, that life is only half my size,” they pine on ‘Joseph’s Dad’, showing that despite the more widescreen vision, it’s still all anchored by intimacy and vulnerability. “Everything’s overrated,” the gossamer and heavenly title track concedes, resigned to an anxiety of “rehearsing what’s reality” and “what chaos is imaginary”.

The grunge fuzz meets subtle electronica ‘Chemical Freeze’ perhaps makes for the most experimental moment of the record, while ‘Minute Of Your Mind’ best captures the dreamy aesthetic. Highlight ‘Swamp And Bay’ offers a rare hook-laden respite with a country-ish radio jangle and scuzz-rock climax, but everything stays consistently true to the core of the record: a very human and honest partnership, in a universe all of their own.

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