In 2009 the Californian pop-rock outfit Girls released their debut album. Perhaps as a comment on the unreliability of labels and names, or perhaps just for the hell of it. It was called Album.
Brimming with catchy, bittersweet melodies and an almost uncomfortable level of honesty in frontman Christopher Owens’ lyrics, Album became a recurring entry in ‘Top 10 Albums on the Year’ lists, and the breakout track, ‘Hellhole Ratrace’ was listed by Pitchfork as the 383rd best song of the decade. Needless to say their follow up has big, awkward shoes to fill.
Their record Father, Son, Holy Ghost has Girls, a band you once could have been forgiven for lumping with the lo-fi punk crowd of their home state, stepping out of that niche into wildly more ambitious territory. The only thing more impressive than their refusal to be pigeon-holed is how successful in breaking away they are. The record flies through the plethora of genres that make up the pool Owens pulls his band’s sound from – from delicate folk jams to epic gospel choirs with even a couple of thundering metal riffs thrown in for good measure. All the while managing to sound undeniably cohesive, confident and bound for great things.
Owens’ life story reads like the blurb of a modern day spin on a Dickens tale. Born into a religious cult where pop music was banned and women were brainwashed into prostitution, he escaped to San Francisco where he discovered his passion for music. We tracked him down, with the latest album now on release, to talk about how it feels to finally have room to spread his wings and just how high he intends to take Girls.
Text: Joe Iley
Photography and Film: Nick Riley Bentham