Girls treiben auf "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" das muntere Zitatesuchspiel auf die Spitze und perfektionieren das ihnen eigene Adaptieren unterschiedlichster Spielarten des Rock aus den vergangenen Jahrzehnten. Gerne auch mal mit mehreren Wechseln, Breaks und Umwegen innerhalb eines Songs. Zu entdecken gibt es Teenage Fanclub, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, Elliott Smith, Pink Floyd, Mercury Rev, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac und noch so einige mehr. Reichen die üblichen 4 Minuten für Referenzen und eigene Ideen nicht aus, so dauert der Song eben sechs, sieben oder gar acht Minuten.
While not exactly a pop savant, Owens has sharpened his songwriting in the few years since Album, and the new tunes sound more open-ended, allowing them to build on and play off one another naturally and easily, without being forced into a self-conscious song cycle or concept album. “My Ma” is all slow burn and slow build, almost an overture to the pleading “Vomit,” which sounds nothing like its title suggests. “Come into my heart,” Owens croons over and over, turning the lyric into both a romantic invitation and a narcotic foreboding, and the desperation in his vocals couldn’t have been learned solely from pop music. The gospel backing vocals may be a bit over the top, but the moment stands as an emotionally direct and musically sophisticated high point on Father, Son, Holy Ghost: familiar elements transformed into something new and desperately personal.
This is an album about juxtaposition and contrast, so the yearning “Alex,” which sounds lit by a beach campfire at twilight, segues into the riff-heavy “Die,” with its classic rock noodling and harried lyrics. Girls do pop melancholy and metal misanthropy equally well. “Just a Song” builds off a simple flamenco theme and a snare roll that sounds like waves on the beach. Owens, however, repeats the line “Love, it’s just a song” until its voice breaks down into simple, seemingly wordless tones—more instrumental than human, as though he’s literally losing himself in the song.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost is full of such odd, unexpected pleasure, which all the more impressive considering how familiar the elements are. That’s perhaps Girls’ most impressive trick: finding so many new ideas and emotions in pop’s well-worn sounds. In that regard, this album not only surpasses its predecessor but raises the bar for any band, indie or otherwise, mining the past for inspiration.