Girlpool‘s sophomore release, ‘Powerplant’, is a solidly OK album that could have been a standout release for Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad. One finds stellar ideas throughout the album, but rarely do Tucker and Tividad capitalize on them. Largely, this failure seems due to the fact that the average tune clocks in at under two-and-a-half minutes.
For example, ‘Soup’, which unites a Priests-esque basslines with sluggish guitars, erupts into massive, heavily-distorted refrains. Had this occurred towards the end of a slowly-building, six-minute track, the climax would have plunged listeners into blissful oblivion. And, yet, in this context the track feels dull, almost a yawner. The potential is there, but rarely realized.
‘She Goes By’ simply tries to do too much. In trying to evoke The Pixies and The Beatles simultaneously, Girlpool achieves neither. Instead, the track either leaves one nauseous or apathetic. Now, the various twists of ‘It Gets More Blue’ work, but only because it has room to organically develop. In fact, this track rivals opener ‘123’ as the album’s best, but cannot salvage the album overall.
Now, this is not to suggest that ‘Powerplant’ is horrid, but rather that it would have benefited from some pruning. Theo and Tividad ought to have dropped the unhinged ‘Corner Store’ and ‘High Rise’, and built upon ‘Static Somewhere’ instead. Simply, these short, harried tracks miss the mark whereas the album’s longer, less rushed, tunes succeed. Both ‘Your Heart’ and the title track display coherent structures, but the album does not play consistently. As soon as Girlpool find a groove, they lose it. As a result, ‘Powerplant’ provides a handful of rad tracks, but doesn’t entice listeners to approach it as whole.
Overall, ‘Powerplant’ signifies a slight step back from ‘Before the World Was Big‘ for Girlpool. By no means is it a “slump,” but it is far from a breakout release. After a promising debut, Girlpool flounder with a resolutely fine effort.
‘Powerplant’ is out now via ANTI–.