Vivian Girls - Share the Joy

by Katy Ledger Rating:6 Release Date:2011-04-10

I, like many others, fell in love with Vivian Girls and their much hyped-eponymous debut album in 2008. It was full of quick bursts of fuzzy garage rock with sloppy lo-fi production and 60s girl-group vocals. We didn't even care that they couldn't really play their instruments or sometimes went off-key; it had a spontaneous and throwaway charm.

I fell out of love with Vivian Girls after seeing them live a few times. The 'we don't give a shit' vibe that worked so well on record came across a bit pretentious when teamed with a lacklustre performance, bored delivery and barely a look up at the audience from underneath their fringes. Since 2008 Vivian Girls have rushed out a second album which was met with a luke-warm reception, have been involved in several side projects (All Saints Day, La Sera, The Babies), have seen several other lo-fi 60s girl-group sounding bands (a la Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls) take centre stage and have a new drummer. And now they bring us their third LP Share the Joy, I can't help but wonder if they have any joy left to share.

At more than six minutes long, album opener 'The Other Girls' is the longest Vivian Girls song to date and a far cry from the snappy bursts that filled the first album. The song doesn't break any new ground but it does show that the girls are willing to take a few risks with the endearingly awkward guitar solos and lyrically it's quite apt, lines like, "I don't want to be like the other girls/ Don't want to lie like the other girls" are a clear indication that Vivian Girls don't want to get caught up in the current fondness for female-fronted fuzz-pop.

The closest the band get to a 'Where Do You Run To' is 'Dance (If You Wanna)', a blatant attempt at a catchy pop song, with repetitive lyrics and simple, driving drums, this fits the Vivian Girls mould and could have easily been on their debut. However, 'Trying to Pretend' is the stand-out track of the album and is Vivian Girls at their best, banging out bursts of vigorous guitars with bags of attitude and military style drum rolls. 'Sixteen Ways' is in a similar vein but sadly this is where the joy stops on the album for me. 'Take It As It Comes' begins with a 60s-style conversational intro and develops into an overly cute bout of condescending and out-dated relationship advice. Everything from then on becomes a bit boring and droney.

Aside from a few extended instrumentals, this is pretty much what we've come to expect from Vivian Girls. It's as fully realised as their first album but slightly glossier, tighter, more thought out and deliberate which in turn means that they have lost some of that ramshackle charm that first appealed. Of course, there were some people that stated that as the sole reason they hated Vivian Girls and those people might find themselves won over by Share The Joy. Just don't go see them live.

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