The sound of the Brooklyn indie rock scene is never far away when you listen to Vivian Girls, and their new album Memory is no exception. Formed in 2007, the newly reformed Vivian Girls have returned with an album that sounds both from another time and indicative of the now, all in one album. Their last three albums could be considered as noise-pop records with little found in the way of refinement. Memories is, however, different. While there is little change in their overall sound, they have returned with an album that is refined. There is no more fast-paced feedback but just a block of incredible music that hits your ears in a lo-fi wonder.
Their old music dealt with the insecurities of youth. But as we all know, some of these insecurities don’t go away and tend to dig down and fester. After an 8 year gap, it is not surprising that their music is more grown-up, while never forgetting their roots.
“All Your Promises” incorporates Mamas and Papas-like harmonies backed with angsty guitars and is surprisingly emotional. Navigating the way out of love is one thing but finding self-meaning in the aftermath is another. The heartbreaking lyrics are nestled between choruses of “la, la, la’s” that are listless and routine. They add to the weariness of their lyrics while being driven by wicked guitar and drum riffs in the background. It closes out with a loud cacophony of guitar riffs that are reminiscent of the function of routine during grief; to deaden the senses while the real emotion froths its way to the top.
While emotion may not be its driving force, “I’m Far Away” is an atmospheric track that starts off with Cassie Romone’s voice evoking memories 90’s teenage movie montages. It is incredibly catchy. Vivian Girls have an unbelievably of making vocals sound like a long drone while also maintaining a fast-pace. And maybe that’s why this track is the best on the album. It is catchy, fuzzy with a dollop of punk that really gets your attention.
From its dull beginnings “Something to Do” bursts into the music sphere with a buzzing vocal that is engaging and pop-like without taking away from Vivian Girls trademark sound. The vocals are the audio version of boredom, but the track itself is anything but. The beautiful harmonies and backing vocals give it a rock girl band kind of vibe and make it the most significant musical departure for the band.
Memory is not really a massive change from their previous work, and it does hit all the usual musical targets without a hitch. Their new refined sound gives way to the championing of their individual talents. In saying that, there are tracks like “Something to Do” and “At It Again” that deviate from the usual formula and really integrate well into the album and their overall sound. It is an album that will please old fans and hopefully introduce some new ones to their dream pop and angry punk lo-fi world.