Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums

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Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums
15. Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds)
Although frontman Christopher Owens has one of the most fascinating back-stories in the biz, Girls have risen up through the ranks of indie rock as far more than the band with the eccentric singer who belonged to the Children of God cult. After impressing us with 2009's debut Album and its follow-up, 2010's Broken Dreams Club, this year Owens, bassist/producer J.R. White and their three new bandmates turned in yet another example of how Girls have become a band to rely on for consistent results. Obsessively retro to its core, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, is unapologetically speckled in what should be far too wide a range of influences: "Just A Song" opens with a classical guitar intro and evolves in Tropicalia, "Honey Bunny" rides a wave of blithe surf pop, "My Ma" is a tear-stained country ballad, "Live Like A River" throws back to some down-home rhythm and blues, and most peculiar is "Die," a staggering outburst of unlikely stoner metal. But the band pull it off earnestly, thanks to Owens' barefaced, almost uncomfortable honesty as a lyricist (two songs are admittedly about exes, one of which is titled "Vomit"), some imaginative arrangements and a team of skilled players. Father, Son, Holy Ghost is indisputably their finest work yet, but you get the sense that it's just the beginning. Owens is said to be working on a reggae album, and as outlandish as it sounds, the way he's spread his wings so far, it could make for a compelling fourth record.
Cam Lindsay

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