Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

Vivian Girls, "Everything Goes Wrong" (In the Red) [3.5 out of 4 stars]

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Last year's short, sharp shock of a self-titled debut by the Brooklyn trio Vivian Girls arrived as the perfect antidote to the Miley Cyrus/"Juno" bizarro-world view of young femininity prevalent in the current media. Taking their name from characters in the alluring yet deeply disturbing fantasy world of Chicago outsider artist Henry Darger and their sound from the Shaggs via the Slits and the Ramones, these musicians captured all the complexities of the liberating joy and the threatening unease of burgeoning female sexuality, and they did it with a clangorous sugar buzz that roared by in about 20 minutes.

By the stilted standards of punk rock, the band matures considerably on its second disc. The individual songs and the album overall are twice as long as last time, and the group reportedly labored over this one for six whole days, as opposed to the three it spent on its bow. The melodies of tracks such as "Walking Alone at Night" and "The End" also seem more memorable--though that could just be a function of the fact that the lengthier tunes have an extra chorus or two to drive the hooks home.

Otherwise, the formula doesn't deviate much--the album title comes from the name of a film by Seijun Suzuki, Japan's answer to Russ Meyer, which ought to tell you that the girls are still mining the same vein of lyrical fodder while aiming for that enticing "naughty misbehavior at summer camp" vibe. But familiar or not, it's still one of the most irresistible bursts of rock-roll energy I've heard this year.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on August 25, 2009 4:12 PM.

Arctic Monkeys, "Humbug" (Domino) [3.5 out of 4 stars] was the previous entry in this blog.

Nine Inch Nails at the Aragon is the next entry in this blog.

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