Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2019-02-01
Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary
Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary

Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker make indie-pop for the 21st century. It’s light, but also serious when it needs to be. After a promising EP back in 2014, their debut album – 2015’s Before the World Was Big – elevated them to a buzz-worthy act. But it was their last album, 2017’s Powerplant that really pushed Girlpool into the established indie rock duo we see them as now. What Chaos is Imaginary is the worthy follow-up fans were clamoring for, but it detaches from its predecessors by blossoming into a new breed of pop.

Right from the start, with “Lucy’s,” Girlpool lets you know that this will not be a Powerplant rehash. Making a full transition, Cleo Tucker’s deeper voice is the first thing we hear, clearly establishing their confidence and demanding our acceptance of their new style. To the uninitiated, it may seem like Girlpool added a new singer, but that’s Tucker, and they sound great. Girlpool have introduced a new dynamic to their sound. Some bands add more synths, or another member, or even just the production taking a larger role. When Laura Jane Grace made her debut with Against Me! it was surprising in appearance, but she still sounded like Thomas Gabel. It made for an easier transition for fans. Tucker’s able to just go right in, which is incredibly brave, and thankfully we live in a different time – thanks to LJG, and other transgender individuals who have made this possible.

What Chaos is Imaginary will likely be remembered as the record where Tucker’s voice changed, and it’ll get attention for that. Putting all of that aside, it’s still a solid record without that cloud of potential judgement over it. Tucker and Tividad balance each other out, and no voice is more dominant than the other. Rock duos have a tendency, just like other bands, to focus on one primary songwriter. But here, both singers get equal exposure, and the different pitches and tones from Tividad to Tucker makes for a more exciting listen.

Tividad delivers some of her grandest choruses, like on “Pretty,” and the two work as a tandem throughout the record, making it a much more cohesive record than Powerplant. Newfound courage may have been what was necessary to take Girlpool from solid indie rock band to a memorable one. Tracks like “Minute In Your Mind,” with its moderate synthy feel, help to push away from that lo-fi classification Girlpool’s been lumped into in the past, like (Sandy) Alex G and Japanese Breakfast. As they grow and change, so must the music, and with What Chaos is Imaginary, Girlpool are transforming into a formidable rock band, not just for indie playlists.

The title track is one of the more drastic changes in their sound, it’s also the longest song they’ve ever recorded – it incorporates a mix of organs, beats, and a soulful duet. It sounds like nothing they’ve done before, but it’s unquestionably Girlpool. What Chaos is Imaginary represents a strong leap in the right direction for Girlpool. It’s expanded sound and scope make it one of the early highlights of 2019.

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