In their new album Powerplant, Los Angeles folk punk duo Girlpool explore the fringes of their signature brand of adulthood.
Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad of Girlpool give voice to feelings other people have only ever half-thought or half-dreamt. Sifting through a self-consciousness that verges on self-awareness, they can succinctly sum up the awkwardness of sweating too much in the summer, inspecting a new pimple, or contemplating one’s place in the universe and what exactly that means – all in one line. Their first full-length album, Before the World was Big, was the story of Harmony and Cleo vs. The World, best friends armed with nothing but a bass, a guitar, and their voices.
In their newest album, Powerplant, released May 12 on ANTI- Records, Harmony and Cleo are back with more messy feelings – of thighs sticking to car seats, crying over flowers, and guilt about taking up any space at all. This time, however, they have some back-up: Miles Wintner on drums.
Wintner fills up the negative space between the duo, drumming up an ocean of steady, thundering waves – some of which Harmony and Cleo catch and ride, others which drown them out. Upon first listen, the latter is frustrating, because it contrasts so starkly with the intimate insights we were privy to in their previous work. But the addition of the drums is actually more representative of what Girlpool has ultimately always been about: a knowing look between best friends, snippets of a private conversation overheard at a party. All that has been added is the deafening ambient noise of the real world in which they now reside.
Tossed around by the tide, Harmony and Cleo let Miles carry them out to sea, then fight back against the undertow just before it is too late. This drenched, salty mess makes it apparent that disorder resides at the fringes of their adulthood. Despite Girlpool’s newfound and somewhat forced entry into the adult world, entropy lurks at the edges of their shaky footing. They don’t have it all figured out, and they’re not trying to pretend otherwise.
All of this tumbling and turning culminates into the best and final song on the album: Static Somewhere. It’s a vow between platonic soulmates, the kind of promise you make to your best friend the night before you graduate high school – to always be friends, no matter what. Before they surrender themselves to the surf, Harmony and Cleo look at each other reassuringly, whispering, “I know I’ll find you, static somewhere.” But even this promise carries with it some doubt. The second time they sing the line, it changes. Across the waves that have built up between them, they call out, “I hope I’ll find you, static somewhere.” They know now that there really isn’t anything of which they can be completely sure –the next time they see each other, they might be unrecognizable. Nevertheless, they cling to the certainty that no matter where they wash up, they will always find their way back to each other. No matter how messy their world has become now that they’ve opened the door to Miles’ tsunami of sound, they are and always will be attached amidst the chaos.