By Mathew Wilkins
VANCOUVER – May is going to be a critical month for L.A.-based duo Girlpool, who plan on releasing the first-ever album since the act’s inception in 2013 that features a full band. Standing in stark contrast to a once-characteristically sparse triad of bass, guitar, and voice, Powerplant can be expected to contain…well, more. But will this new album be a step in the wrong direction as musicians Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker progress away from a sound that they inhabited so perfectly in the past?
To date, Girlpool (a name swiped from a chapter in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle) has established itself as a one-of-a-kind singer-songwriter duo with a DIY punk edge—a sound gleaned from their time playing in various local punk bands throughout their respective youths. The two met in 2012 at L.A. venue The Smell and have been best friends ever since, both sharing a special closeness that extends beyond their relationship as mere bandmates. “Our relationship has shapeshifted many different ways,” Tividad says of their friendship after being together as a band for four years, “but I think in essence and at root, our love and respect for each other has only grown.”
Almost all songs to date contain the same bass and guitar combo that scratches out minimal, understated rhythms and melodies while Tividad and Tucker’s arresting yet matter-of-fact vocals soar overhead. The lyrics—delivered often in beautiful harmony by the pair’s almost frighteningly complementary voices—speak incidentally of the average life, the day-to-day, and the profound events and relationships that spring up in the midst of it all. “There’s no goal or expectation that we have going into writing”, says Tucker. “I find it really important to be all-allowing when I’m writing music.”
And with no preconceptions to guide the creation of their lyrics or music, Girlpool’s honesty and transparency take the helm during the creative process. “I can’t really tell where the next record will go because it’s entirely just based on what we feel compelled to do in the moment of recording it,” says Tividad. This creative spontaneity lends the music an unmistakable edge, seemingly embodying the average and unpredictable nature of life. Coupled with Tividad and Tucker’s earnest and powerful reverence and admiration for one another, the music within their eponymous EP, Before the World Was Big, and now Powerplant, contains a strength and breadth of emotion that’s hard to come by anywhere else.
Girlpool perform May 27 at the Biltmore Cabaret.Girlpool, The Biltmore Cabaret