The Vivian Girls Don't Maintain Their Appeal on Second Album

The Vivian Girls

Everything Goes Wrong (In the Red)

The Vivian Girls took their name from outsider artist Henry Darger's massive, uncomfortably obsessive collage opus, The Story of the Vivian Girls. And hey, a band inspired by Darger sounds good to me. I mean, spooky, weird, fey wrongness—maybe some kind of arty freak folk? I love that stuff.

Unfortunately, the Vivian Girls are basic pop punk, with catchy, crunchy tunes. They use some winsome twee vocals, and their lyrics are certainly wide-eyed and innocent ("Before I start to cry/Just turn and walk on by/Don't make me think about/what you should have figured out"). But the feyness is of the direct indie-rock heart-on-sleeve variety—there's little of the cracked melancholy that haunts the work of bands like the Vaselines or the Shangri-Las. As a result, while the Vivian Girls can be entertaining enough for a track or two, over the course of a whole album they end up sounding bland—which, love him or hate him, is not something you should ever be able to say about a band named after the works of Henry Darger.