Angst and Growing Pains
As people get older and watch waves of newbies come onto the music scene, there is always a smugness directed towards the newcomers. When you are finally able to go to eighteen-up shows, you look back at the people backfilling your space in the all-ages scene with wistful disdain, with the jaded eyes of one who thinks they’ve seen it all. Same thing happens when you hit 21 and see kids with X’s on their hands. However, at some point, there is a moment of self realization where you see yourself, your friends and your own experiences reflected in those of the up-and-comers. You hear a song or listen to a record that perfectly encapsulates what it was to be at a certain point in an archetypal life. Girlpool’s debut album Before the World Was Big is one of those albums.
When viewed with the benefit of hindsight and life experience, there is an unmistakable innocence to the songs on this album, often masked by the misplaced self-assuredness that everyone has in their early twenties. The unflinching honesty and self reflection offers insight into the mind of someone trying to come to grips with the world and their place in it. The title track has a “coming of age” quality – the uncertainty of being thrust unceremoniously into the grown-up world. “Chinatown,” another standout track, deals with not knowing oneself and trying to discover a sense of self in relation to other people.
Musically, this record is a delightful. One guitar, one bass, two voices, all playing off of each other, criss-crossing and harmonizing with uncommon complexity. There is an organic, almost-folky, quality to their sound that feels raw rather than over considered and polished. However, as previously mentioned, the subject matter and the lyrics limit the reach of the material. Anyone of the other side of 25 will most probably feel the songs are too angsty and too naive for their tastes.