Rebellion is usually imagined to be something loud and raucous, especially in music. From the crunchy riff of The Who’s “My Generation” to the snarling Sex Pistol’s track “God Save The Queen.” Girlpool have thrown that notion away completely on their debut full-length Before The World Was Big.
The Los Angeles duo consisting of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad met at the infamous LA indie rock club The Smell in 2013, and immediately gravitated toward one another. It’s clear that the two spent many a weekend in the sweaty club learning from some of the best indie rockers in the world.
Before The World Was Big is a short record, clocking in at just under 25 minutes, but dammit is it memorable. The album opener “Ideal World,” like many tracks, is composed of only two chords. This Cobain-esque knack for simplicity serves each song perfectly, and mirrors the post-punk sound of bands like The Raincoats (who were a favorite of Cobain’s coincidently).
Girlpool’s music has an element of childlike innocence reminiscent of Meg White’s (The White Stripes) pots-and-pans approach to the drums. They pluck away at their guitars and sing with unabashed conviction about rebellion, femininity, growing up and love.The duo also take a folksy approach to some tracks such as “Chinatown” which provides some necessary variety from their dumpy electric guitar sound. These riot grrrl lullabies make their points strongly, without the need for thrashiness, and at the end of the day, Girlpool does not take themselves too seriously, which is truly a breath of fresh air among the pretension of the indie rock community.
These women have obviously done their music history homework. They pull from the best of post-punk, 90’s indie and grunge with a tinge of Velvet Underground pop. This mixture along with their saccharine vocals turns out to be a match made in heaven. They’ve nailed the catchy-but-not-too-poppy approach to melody.
One of the most surprising aspects of Before The World Was Big is the fact that there is not a single drum to be found on the entire record. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that this lack of drums is not immediately noticeable upon first listen. The band is quirky and strange in the best ways possible. With a debut this strong, there’s no telling where they’re going next— but there’s no doubt I’ll be watching to find out.
Tyler Davis is a senior journalism student at Biola University. He spends his days writing and playing music across Southern California.