Rating: 3.5/5 stars
In an age of indie music defined by laid-back, reverb-soaked crooning, it’s easy to get lost in the deafening whirlwind of Mac Demarco and Rex Orange County wannabes. On their third album as Girlpool, Los Angeles natives Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad manage to cut through the noise, putting their own quirky spin on the indie rock sound.
Compared to the duo’s previous two albums, What Chaos Is Imaginary departs from their usual sound somewhat. The cute, jangly tunes that had defined the band up until this point have been replaced with heavier, noisier, and more experimental cuts. The album kicks off with the track “Lucy’s,” packed full of droning guitars, a punchy kick drum, and some deadpan vocal harmonies.
Tucker and Tividad share vocal duties equally across the album, playing off each other naturally. Another highlight on the album is the upbeat “Hire,” which combines some sticky guitar riffs with one of Tucker’s best performances on the album. However, perhaps the best song on the entire album is the brooding and experimental “Chemical Freeze.” The track mixes a sombre lead guitar and a glitchy electronic beat with ambient style sampling and hushed lyrics about a breakup to create a meditative masterpiece. Some other highlights in the second half of the album are the groovy and upbeat “Lucky Joke,” and the closing track “Roses,” an expansive shoegaze opus.
Overall, What Chaos Is Imaginary is a strong effort from two young artists who have potential in spades. The duo does a good job of delivering several dreamy guitar-focused tracks that are a pleasure to get lost in. What Chaos Is Imaginary primarily falls short in its length and its tendency toward uniformity. Songs like the title track and acoustic ballad “Hoax and the Shrine” could have been paired back or cut all together. For a somewhat lengthy album, What Chaos Is Imaginary sticks closely to its left-field indie rock aesthetic for most of its 45-minute runtime, making the last leg of the album a bit of a slog.