Filed Under:

Girls: Rock As Religion

Play associated audio

Christopher Owens has a bit of the provocateur in him — always a good thing in a rock star, especially at a time when rock music has a seriously dwindling market share. The 2009 debut single by his band, Girls, was titled "I Need a Boyfriend," which Owens has said was meant more figuratively than literally. The new Girls album is titled Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and if you're guessing it's a tell-all about his upbringing in the so-called religious cult called the Children of God, you would be incorrect. But, back story aside, it is an extraordinary record.

As far as I can tell, Father, Son, Holy Ghost is an album about secular love, historically the topic of numerous rock scriptures. And rock history is definitely on Owens' mind — from the Dark Side of the Moon-style organ swells and gospel vocals of "Vomit" to the wicked surf-guitar riffs in "Honey Bunny" to the searing guitar jams in the simply titled "Die," which was inspired by a Fleetwood Mac song from that band's early days as a psychedelic blues-rock outfit.

The new Girls album comes at a time when lots of indie-rock acts are looking backward to various eras for inspiration, and the component parts are familiar. But Father, Son, Holy Ghost is more than a flashback machine, partly because Owens, somewhat like the late Amy Winehouse, puts a modern spin on his gender-dodging lyrics and on his delivery, which has a very 21st-century sense of desperation about it. It's also because his sound, soulfulness, melodies and provocations are simply more compelling than those of most of his peers. It's rock that feels transformative rather than recycled, and these days, that's something very special.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Book Review: 'Kinder Than Solitude'

Ellah Allfrey reviews Kinder Than Solitude, by Yiyun Li.
NPR

Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'

Scientists and food activists are launching a campaign to promote seeds that can be freely shared, rather than protected through patents and licenses. They call it the Open Source Seed Initiative.
NPR

John Edwards Resumes Career As Trial Attorney

The former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential hopeful is one of three attorneys representing a boy in a medical malpractice case in North Carolina.
NPR

When Parents Are The Ones Too Distracted By Devices

Parents often complain that smartphones keep their kids distracted from conversation. What happens when it's the other way around, when kids can't get their smartphone-glued parents' attention?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.