Before the World Was Big
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Girlpool - Before the World Was Big

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Girlpool’s June 2015 release, Before the World Was Big, will sound familiar to many young listeners. The album gives a sensation of wandering an empty suburb on a warm summer day, while the middle-aged families sit in their air-conditioned homes watching re-runs of soap operas and drinking Iced Tea from sweating cans. As you listen to the album, there is an undeniably palpable sense of lethargy; the likes with which the millennial generation is inundated as they try senselessly to claw themselves from the suburban monotony of what came before them.


The album takes it’s name from a chapter title in Kurt Vonnegut’s classic post-modern novel, Cat’s Cradle. The music echoes the sensations of post-humanism and self-destructions found in the dark oeuvre produced by Vonnegut in 1963. The tracks feature no drums, which provides a sense of aimlessness and the two vocalists sing in often dissonant or slightly offset harmonies. The overall feeling created is one of something being slightly askew, though you can never quite put your finger on what that something is.


There’s an obvious influence from 90’s style grunge music and Riot Grrrl punk, with simplistic guitar lines and a sense of dissatisfaction with the conditions of society. The band’s two members, 18 year-olds Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, even classify themselves as punk rock. But there’s something more nostalgic and folk-like to this music that reminds us of the inescapably ever-changing world around us.


In the track Chinatown, the band asks, “do you feel restless when you realise you’re alive?” and amidst the simplistic two chord structure and flowing vocal line, you realise that you do feel restless. The album digs to a core part of it’s listener and reminds them that the world in which they grew up is gone, and that the suburban childhoods so many millennials experienced are crumbling to dust around them.


It’s in this nature, one of simplicity and raw truths, that LA band Girlpool has reached to an essential string in the center of its listeners. The band has a demanding honesty that seems to at once create a sense of nostalgia for what has come, and a sense of trepidation for what will come. These two eighteen-year-old girls have created an album that will resonate with a generation that knows that it is on the brink of a world where everything is different.


And so as the album closes, and you symbolically step back inside an air-conditioned home with pre-programmed DVR, you are left with an uneasiness. Because having heard Before the World Was Big, you’re now aware of just how small the world has become.

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