Vivian Girls

You'd be hard pushed to find a 'best of' list in 2008 that didn't feature this Brooklyn trio's eponymous self titled debut and so the expectation for the followup must have been something of an issue to overcome after such blanket praise. With it's raw punk riffs and flattend-out off-the-cuff-vocals it dazzled with immediacy, excitement and spontaneity - qualities that can easily be eradicated with the slightest bit of pressure from expectation. And when you read that the followup Everything Goes Wrong took double the time to record and is a longer record the signs point to a disappointment. However when that recording period was six days instead of three and the carefree notes of opener Walking Alone At Night greet your ears you'll only chastise yourself for such pessimism.

Everything Goes Wrong is a much darker affair than it's predecessor. With a sombre weight, the girls have jacked up the pace evolving their bubble-gum garage rock into full-on punk rock bursts. There's not such a reliance on the pop melody and seems to draw its influence on the hardcore scene more than the shoegaze tendencies that ran through the debut. All this is to it's credit however and this sophomore album effortlessly sidesteps any pressure by sounding like it was unaware of the pressure in the first place. These changes have been made without the record sounding aware of itself in the slightest. But this is no fresh-faced first-time sound. Far from it, it's a mature sound that has evolved and one that they can start to call their own. There isn't the stand-out joy of their first record and many of the songs come at you in a similar package. But the result is a wave-upon-wave effect that, after repeated subjection, sweeps you up and you're theirs.

The record may be more somber and more aggressive but the sweet vocal melodies are more beguiling as a result. They wash over the feral background easing everything into the distance and taking the listener with them. This form of attack works best on the longer songs and with few of the debuts cuts making it past the two minute mark it's quite a shock to see a good few four minuters here. Can't Get Over You and the soaring Out For The Sun never let up in pace and build a wall of sound around you that is impossible to escape even if you wanted to, and the vocal harmonies on Double Vision cast a blissful spell that seems to sum up the whole record. There's nothing better than a sophomore album that only serves to justify the debut and this builds on the success of 2008 with startling maturity and subtlety without seeming conscious at all. As they plod on to higher ground Vivian Girls cast a spell in their wake while seeming blissfully unaware of its potency.