Girls Sound Both Classic and Out of Step on Debut "Album"

Girls, Album (True Panther Sounds)

Girls' frontman Christopher Owen takes his classic pop neat, no chaser, on the San Francisco duo's debut album, titled simply Album. Owen doesn't have a filter to process the oldies music he's absorbed—Beach Boys and girl-group harmonies and Byrds-like chiming guitars—into a contemporary approximation of '60s and '70s radio. He simply channels it all (and the influence of previous interpreters like the Replacements, Elvis Costello, Big Star, and early '90s Britpop) into something that sounds both out of step and classic: classic because it mostly sounds like AM radio from 30 years ago; out of step because it's such an earnest take on classic rock and pop. Although it's not really classic—sometimes the provenance of the songs is distractingly obvious, especially on the overpowered shoegaze fuzz of "Morning Light" and the beach-party twang of "Big Bad Motherf--ker," and sometimes Owen's flat, direct lyrics descend into clumsy banality ("You've gotta try to wear a smile, no matter how hard it can be to do," on "Lauren Marie")—but it has a lot of charm, even if it feels like it may wear thin after a while.