Girlpool refuses to stay in place in their versatile record
Girlpool is an indie-rock band from California that recently released their fourth studio album, Forgiveness. Girlpool expands its sound and songwriting abilities through an artistic process that perfectly balances distortion and vulnerable ballads. Forgiveness creates a cohesive, engaging listening experience with its variety of songs.
“Nothing Gives Me Pleasure” is an explosive beginning to Forgiveness. The distorted, haunting instrumentals balance well with the dreamy, high-pitched vocals that create a more nuanced track. The bridge steals the show with this song, with its strong use of autotuned loops. These loops undercut the instrumental breakdown in a way that acts as a catharsis. After a slow start to the song, the instrumentals changing to more organic sounds is a fascinating way to create an interesting take on their signature indie-pop sound.
“Violet” is a heavy contrast from “Nothing Gives Me Pleasure.” This track is more somber and traditional in its sound while exploring themes of sexuality and affairs. The lyrics have a feeling of simplicity that cuts through to connect with the listener, creating a personally impactful song. Wails of a guitar fuel the bridge as if it is a cry to end a painful relationship. Despite the traditional start, there is still a connective feeling in its intense instrumentals. The addition of sirens at the end undercuts the dreamy emotions and brings the listener back to Earth.
“Faultline” has one of the most powerful lyrical moments throughout the album. The friction implicit in a faultline reflects two opposite worlds colliding in a relationship. One side is a feeling of regret, while the other is reminiscent of the beauty in a relationship, something this track shows both of. The vocals are more emotive on it than on other tracks throughout Forgiveness. Additionally, this track pays tribute to Harmony Tividad’s vocal strengths, which feel underutilized throughout the album. “Faultline” is a beautiful song that has a strong balance between drums and bass, coinciding with the album’s themes.
While “Violet” is traditional, “Country Star” is more innovative. “Country Star” borrows from the mainstream ’80s pop revival with more breathy, darker vocals. The keyboard brings in a pop element that sounds like an R&B track. The backing vocals are biting and damning, creating a moody feeling. Girlpool refuses to stay in one music genre, and “Country Star” shows that.
“Butterfly Bulletholes” contrasts with the cinematic feeling other songs on Forgiveness create. This track is more introspective and expressive of the lead singer’s feelings rather than just failed relationships. The instrumentals are more relaxed and let the lead singer’s vocals shine. Perhaps this is more reflective of past songs by the group than on Forgiveness. Despite this, it does not feel out of place with more experimental songs on Forgiveness.
“Love333” closes the album with a somber feeling, processing the paint throughout Forgiveness. The piano and violin fuse together and create a sorrowful sound to the waste of energy in relationships that are unfulfilling. While “Love333” lacks the distinct distortion of “Nothing Gives Me Pleasure,” it provides a sense of clarity. The shift towards introspection in the back half of the album works by telling of the pain in understanding oneself.
Forgiveness is one of Girlpool’s strongest albums to date. This new release provides a variety of directions for the group to take with its variety of musical sounds and artistic themes. Girlpool refuses to stick to just one genre or one topic and is able to branch out to anything they wish. Forgiveness is a beautiful, relatable album that connects every song to each other with its different but similar themes.