The Los Angeles indie rock duo, Girlpool, move away from minimalism on their latest studio album, What Chaos is Imaginary. The album marks a transitional phase for the pair as they venture into a heavier, more experimental direction.
When Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker debuted as Girlpool in 2014, they had a stripped down and imperfect quality about them. The following year, they released Before the World Was Big, an album that can be characterized by its quirky innocence and youthful idealism. They had a straightforward approach to songwriting that was refreshing. Looking back, Girlpool almost sounds like an entirely different band.
The evolution of Girlpool on this album is substantial, with the most drastic change being Tucker’s voice, as he sings in a deeper register as a result of testosterone therapy. Tividad and Tucker emerge as individuals this time, whereas before their intertwined vocals were almost indistinguishable. Girlpool also dives further into abstraction in terms of lyricism — a sharp contrast to their early songs, which were often comically upfront.
On What Chaos, Girlpool alternate between dreamy, sweet jangle pop and fuzzy discordance. “Where You Sink” boasts a reverb-backed sound that reappears later on the heavily shoegaze-influenced “Minute in Your Mind.” Meanwhile, “Pretty” is an indie-pop jam with a chorus that’s made for nothing less than screaming along to. “You were such an idol /
Yeah, you were the whole world / Now you see you look pretty broken /
Pretty broken,” Tividad and Tucker sing in unison.
“Chemical Freeze” sees Girlpool dipping more into the experimental. It’s one of the more interesting cuts on the album, featuring a gloomy guitar lead and a glitchy, paranoia-inducing, electronic beat.
What Chaos is Imaginary finds Girlpool moving away from the cute, DIY sound that previously defined them, perhaps to the dismay of some fans. But Tividad and Tucker aren’t 17 anymore, and while they may lose some of that youthful charm that they became synonymous with, What Chaos feels like a necessary change.