Complicated and incoherent can easily go hand in hand. Simple requires the smarts and instincts to restrain from doing too much. A common pitfall in recording music can be to overthink it past the point of where the music leads the way.
Vivian Girls are commendable in how they let the music and the songs be what they are. This is not to suggest there isn’t much more going on musically than may be apparent from an initial listen. The chord changes and song structures are deceptively intricate and unexpected at times, but never to the point that it doesn’t serve the song or cloud the overall vibe.
There is much to be gained in terms of imagination and contemplation from the one note guitar solos in the song ‘Something To Do’. Jerry Lee Lewis — a man who seems to know every song ever written — would often play one note solos and one note introductions. To paraphrase a Mark Twain quote: “There is more benefit from one evil deed if heartfelt than from a thousand good deeds if not heartfelt.”
Vivian Girls records pull off the best trick there is in songwriting — making the listener feel the need to play a song more than once to get their fill. Always end too soon rather than too late. The best rock ‘n’ roll records, in my opinion, are always short.
‘Sick’ has a clearly heard bass line that is melodic and also serves to lay the foundation for the song. This is almost a taboo in recorded music these days. Something about the bass being hard to hear on a smartphone, thus there is an inclination in mastering to not make the bass very loud, or so I’ve been told.
‘Sludge’ makes you want to drive around town and contemplate ditching your boring hometown for good. It hits that delinquent juvenile, spit in the wind, fuck everyone note that rock ‘n’ roll can do better than most.
‘Your Kind Of Life’ is a gem. The slightly rollicking persistent train rhythm puts the gears in motion. In this writer’s opinion, the lyrics “You gotta see scarier faces,” cuts to the heart of the fear in moving on from what’s comfortable and known. But as the saying goes, half measures avail nothing.
This band seems to be one of the rare few that inspire others to want to round up their best friends and make their own music and start their own band. It is heartwarming to see them back together making music.