Los Angeles duo Girlpool deliver one of the year’s simplest albums in the form of ‘Before The World Was Big’. The band’s sound is chiselled down to the most basic form, consisting of just guitar and bass, and dual vocals of Tucker Tividad.
Featuring just ten tracks and crawling in at just 24 minutes, ‘Before The World Was Big’ feels more like an EP than an album. But the duo keeps it simple and direct with steady rhythms and basic structures.
Ideal World plods along assuredly, with some lovely vocal interplay between Tucker and Tividad before a discordant guitar solo closes off the song in an aggressively off-kilter fashion. The sudden emergence of an angry guitar sound returns to add another dimension to Crowded Stranger with a distorted guitar crashing through a slow bassline half way through the track.
There’s plenty of slower tunes as well, with Dear Nora floating by much more softly with vocals whispered quietly as Girlpool make great use of their roomy sound to create a reassuring space.
Before The World Was Big brightens things up a bit, and impresses with its insanely catchy hooks and nostalgic vocals. The band’s harmonies are one of their strongest features, but Girlpool avoid overusing these vocal embellishments. Instead they flit between singing in harmony and in unison, and they’re all the more effective because of this. The group tend to let their tunes bloom out from a steady start, with the likes of Cherry-Picking opening with some lonely guitar notes and gentle vocal lines before expanding with an insistent guitar riff and meaty bassline. It’s raw and brittle but startlingly honest and as always the vocal harmonies excel.
‘Before The World Was Big’ is a beautifully twee album that delivers tunes that bubble with energy as well as some much more chilled out moments. Girlpool make effective use of the space opened up by a lack of drums, and whether whispered or shouted the vocals are spellbinding. ‘Before The World Was Big’ may be short and sweet, but it lacks nothing.