Girlpool – Powerplant

Girlpool has grown in numbers, with founders Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker adding their band’s first drummer, Miles Wintner, since breakout 2015 album Before the World Was Big. The group also has a much larger platform since signing with major indie label Anti-, an Epitaph Records offshoot that’s issued releases by the likes of Tom Waits, Merle Haggard and Mavis Staples. None of that waters down the pre-existing charm of a couple of BFFs, injecting their joy, frustration, and likely a few inside jokes into some of the most harmonious and clever music to bubble up from the underground in recent memory.

New album Powerplant takes what fans expect from the band a step further. Serene songs like “Kiss and Burn” and “Sleepless” aren’t just attempts by Tividad and Tucker to recapture some of the emotional gems they wrote as teenagers. Instead, they’re writing modern-day emo from a 20-something’s perspective, without fitting any emo mold. They’re growing up without conforming to norms, and so is Girlpool’s music.

The heavier songs, such as album opener “123” or the fantastic “Corner Store,” pack the sudden tempo changes that pushed guitar rock forward creatively in the ’90s, without aimlessly trying to recapture the distant past. This willingness to add their own peculiar lyrical and stylistic twists to guitar-driven punk rock keeps Girlpool’s harmony-driven approach from sounding like a second-rate, folksy version of the Breeders. Such a line as “I faked global warming just to get close to you,” from the song “It Gets More Blue,” is so weird and wonderful and unlike any line from any song. Instead of just drawing inspiration from past greats who turned nonsense written on napkins into memorable songs, these women seem to have the inspiration and drive to empty quite a few napkin dispensers for equally grabbing one-liners.