At present, San Francisco band Girls are somewhat of an enigma. The songs they have scattered around the internet are as diverse as they are uncommon. At times, the music is shoegaze, with fuzzed up guitars, layers of sounds and low level feedback. At other times they’re folky, like an even quirkier Arcade fire, or a fragile and earnest Bright Eyes.
The b-side to their debut single 'Hellhole Ratrace' definitely falls into the latter category. Without a press release, it’s almost impossible to unpick 'Solitude'. I couldn’t even work out a definitive band line up. Their videos, reminiscent of the worst parts of an E4 Skins trailer where Urban Outfitters have seemingly thrown up over everyone, offer no clues to band membership. Is this band two guys or a collective of 35 fashionistas? Enigmatic indeed.
But never mind all this ambiguity, what is important is their music; and their music is extraordinary. ‘Solitude’ is a subtle, reverb drenched, song that’s crisp and poignant. With arpeggiated guitars akin to REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’, the tune sways through three and a half minutes of emotion in a way that the entire emo genre has failed to do. ‘Girls’ show with ease that less is indeed more.
Sounding at times like Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ or a verse in ‘Hey Jude’ (listen out for it) this song skilfully taps into that universal emotional vain that so many great tunes have done in the past. The vocals are clear and melancholy, yet the lyrics are without the usual hint self-pity that can often accompany a sad melody. The whole song is superbly bitter sweet.
An exceedingly impressive offering from ‘Girls’ - I suspect this will be the beginning of significant cult success for the band. So much so, it may be worth attending one of their UK gigs in October before everyone else does the same. Check their myspace (http://www.myspace.com/girlssanfran) for further info.