A ‘Glasvegas’ beater, and no mistake...

Be fair: Glasvegas aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Revivalist of arrangement and distinctly super-stylised of image, be that enforced or evolved, something’s not quite right about their plastering across magazine covers and recent chart successes. It’s all too… staged? Maybe.

Plus, they’re too old to be cool. Sorry, but it’s a fact: oldies ain’t hip, however noisy their guitars or stiff their quiffs.

So, retro-loving gazers of shoes and stars, look not to the north-of-the-border sorts for your hipster kicks, but to Brooklyn’s Vivian Girls, who muddle influences comparable to those of the all-conquering Scots – namely overtones of girl-group-era sing-along friendliness and Jesus And Mary Chain foggy squall – with a sweetness only fresh-of-face members of the fairer sex are capable of exuding. This self-titled album, re-issued via cult punk label In The Red after its 500-run first pressing on Mauled By Tigers sold out, says more in its brief 21-minute run-time than a thousand replays of ‘Daddy’s Gone’.

Punchy and immediate, the record bops hardest when tracks like ‘Damaged’ and ‘Going Insane’ conjure images of Sleater-Kinney getting their hot rock on with Joe Meek while Bobby G smiles approvingly in the corner, just prior to him thwacking several shades of shit out of an already battered crash cymbal. Just because, likes. And for every comparable thrasher there’s a little something smooth as silk, such as ‘Where Do You Run To’ – few bands can capture the purest pop of the Shangri-Las, and maintain the classic all-girl outfit’s sense of teenage melodrama, but this trio does so masterfully.

Admirers of recent lo-fi breakthrough outfits such as No Age and Abe Vigoda will find much to admire, too – closer proper (barring a bonus track) ‘Never See Me Again’ is a tumbling riot of rapid-fire percussion recorded on a cassette deck in a cave – not literally, of course, but that’s the effect that’s been set in wax. ‘Going Insane’ is throwaway pop at its best – like the Ramones’ finest pogo-friendly salvos reworked into a touching love story.

With echoes of Vaselines and the Shop Assistants in their sound, too, Vivian Girls may just have released the best album of its type in 2008 – this eponymous debut drips with a confidence beyond the band’s years, and fits no particular fashion of today. It’s an album out of time – several years too late to mix with its makers’ obvious influences, and probably too early for it to be regarded as a classic on its own terms. What it isn’t: an album that’ll get the respect it so clearly warrants.

What it most certainly is: a ‘Glasvegas’ beater, and no mistake.


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