Girlpool’s debut was beautifully simple, at least instrumentally. Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker’s tender vocals washed over twisting and turning guitar and bass lines, and showed the pair to be an intriguingly unique proposition.
Its follow-up, and the band’s debut on Anti-, sees them aiming for the stars. From the moment opener and debut single ‘123’ fully kicks in with the first drums ever heard on a Girlpool record, ‘Powerplant’ largely leaves the introspection of ‘Before The World Was Big’ behind.
The hushed vocals of ‘Sleepless’ melt into a chorus-of-sorts blanketed by distortion, and large periods of ‘Powerplant’ team the kind of polarising elements that Elliott Smith fitted together so well - of highly emotional whispered vocals given stadium-sized backing from huge drums and piercing guitars.
‘Corner Stone’ is beautifully jangly while the fidgety ‘Kiss and Burn’ is the most complex Girlpool have ever sounded. The relative loss of simplicity makes ‘Powerplant’ a listen that takes longer to settle and sink in, but when it’s wormed its way in, it proves itself to be just as affecting and crushing as its predecessor.
The bitter, massive ‘She Goes By’ and the chunky ‘Static Somewhere’ close the album with little fanfare, and ‘Powerplant’ isn’t an album of swooping highs and crushing lows - somewhat unexpectedly, adding more elements to the band’s sound has made the album tread a largely similar line from front to back.
The beefing up of Girlpool’s sound on ‘Powerplant’ works marvellously in parts, but at points serves to dilute the individuality the pair presented on their debut.