We last heard from Girls on “Carolina,” the closing track of their Broken Dreams Club EP, released last November. The sprawling, multipart beauty rounded out what amounted to an exploratory EP for the band—a deeper sound was mined from Chet “JR” White’s production talents. Broken Dreams Club took the sound of Album and built on it. Sunny surf rock, country, and psychedelia blended with the punk sensibilities that formed lead singer Christopher Owens and his musical partner White’s earlier interests. Father, Son, Holy Ghost is a continuation of earlier material, which often ends up being a good thing.
The similarity between releases lies in production style, lyrical framework and song simplicity. If those aspects didn’t appeal to you on Album, this record won’t either. The pop bursts of “Honey Bunny” and “Alex” mark a punchier front half of a record that fills its latter sections with lengthy slow-burners like “Vomit” and “Forgiveness,” both nearing seven and eight minutes respectively. On these two tracks, Owens uses basic, repetitive lyrics to conjure up heartfelt, simplistic sentiments and mantras before organs or guitars move in to take the reins away from his voice.
The literal and figurative centerpiece of this record is “Vomit.” In line with Album’s “Hellhole Ratrace” and Broken Dream Club’s “Carolina,” the song climbs slowly, rising briefly for a guitar solo, settling, and finally opening fully near the five-minute mark. Organs rise up. A soulful female backing vocal lifts the demure Owens, who repeatedly pleads, “Come in to my heart.” The song ends full of hope. In the PR material for Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Owens wrote, “‘Vomit’ is someone who is at life’s lowest, seeing the light, and becoming a songwriter.” If the end of “Vomit” is Owens seeing a light, the second half of the record—namely its lyrical content—becomes easier to understand.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost is still marked by the same sadness, in both vocal delivery and subject matter, that made Album and Broken Dreams Club so arresting, but this album also makes room for something resembling hope or happiness. “No, it’s all gonna get fucked up tonight/No, nothing’s gonna be okay/No, it’s all going down the drain tonight,” Owens chants on “Die.” But later, on “Forgiveness,” after “seeing the light,” Owens admits “Nothing’s gonna get any better/If you don’t have a little hope/If you don’t have a little love/In your soul.”
Father, Son, Holy Ghost is another good Girls record. At times, during the blissful pop moments like “Alex” or the repetitive closing refrains of “Vomit” and “Forgiveness,” it’s a great record.