Inevitably every year I fall hard for a record that manages to further reinvent that hazy, melodic Brian Wilson mid-60’s California glow. This year the debut from San Francisco’s “Girls” rips that page up, and then reassembles it into a glorious, grungy scrapbook of freedom and loss. The band is the primary brainchild of Christopher Owens who, as a child he survived an itinerant drifting as part of a bizarre cult only to run away from home only to reemerge years later as the author of one of the most emotive and uplifting albums of the years. There is a beautifully ragged, druggy, innocence dripping from every note.
But “Album” is an adventure in texture. It lives somewhere between rock and pop, psychedelic and lo-fi, happy and sad. A song like “Hellhole Ratrace,” my vote for the finest song of 2009, is an epic meditation on “love and affection” that starts innocently enough with a gentle guitar that builds into a wall of emotion cycling through a few repeated chorus’ for seven blissful minutes. Other songs stay closer to the Wilson ethos of the instruments just kind of echoing the crashing of waves on the pacific and the wind through the palms i.e. “Headache.” This album is wonderfully warm place to escape and dream weird thoughts.