The musical duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Trividad, also known as Girlpool, has been making major strides since coming together in 2013 when the two were only 17 and 18, respectively. What started out as a raw, sometimes amateurish Punk project has since matured into an ever-evolving band that refuses to be defined. Their newest release, entitled What Chaos Is Imaginary, out February 1st via Anti- Records, shows that Girlpool are unwilling to be confined into any one genre. Lilting between Indie, Pop, Rock, Punk, and everything in between, these fourteen tracks tell of two people attempting to navigate adulthood in an unforgiving, contemporary world.
With their latest album, Girlpool are exploring much more introspective themes. Their previous LP, Powerplant, focused heavily on observations on the lives of others, while What Chaos is Imaginary finds the duo looking inward during transitional periods of their lives. For the first time, Tucker and Trividad wrote songs separately rather than “with four hands, from the ground up,” as Tucker puts it. Influences from their respective solo projects seep into the hazy, layered “Where You Sink” and “What Chaos Is Imaginary.” Though, the duo are still at their best when combining their vocals, as they do throughout tracks like “Minute in Your Mind.” Even with Tucker’s new, lower vocal range, his and Trividad’s vocals mesh together perfectly.
For the first time, it is often apparent who wrote each track, but each still feels distinctly of Girlpool. Tucker’s tend to bounce with jangly guitars and more upbeat melodies like the standout “Swamp and Bay” or opener “Lucy’s.” Trividad’s tracks still drip with fuzzed out guitars and heavy drum crashes in “Stale Device,” and “Pretty,” perhaps the album’s best track, which dissects deeply personal feelings of confusion.
While many of these tracks see the band taking great strides in new musical directions, “Where You Sink” was a wise choice for lead single as it retains several of the same characteristics of early Girlpool: plodding melodies, relatable lyrics, and faraway vocals. That being said, the song still features the elevated songwriting capabilities and sonic experimentations that characterize this album.
Those listeners who have been around since the beginnings of Girlpool may not take to the band’s musical evolution. The bad is shedding the bare-bones instrumentals of their debut in favor of lush layers and exchanging lo-fi tones for higher production values. Where there once were raw Punk screams there are now controlled vocals. All of these changes show Girlpool growing from young kids into adults coming into their own. The contrast between their debut and this new album is a stark one, but the metamorphosis is thrilling to watch. Girlpool are only getting better with each album, and their new approach to songwriting makes for a varied collection of tracks that range from fuzzed out Indie-Pop to subdued introspectives. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives What Chaos Is Imaginary 4 out of 5 stars.