By Emily DiAlbert, Copy Editor
Key tracks: “Where You Sink”, “Hire”, “Pretty”
It’s hard to believe that Girlpool captured our hearts only five years ago with their debut self-titled album. Initially drawn by their sassy, unabashed sound and lyrics, we kept listening. One year later, Before the World Was Big let us get to know a different, more sentimental side of the duo, and we grew to love them even more. Metamorphosing in their latest album, What Chaos Is Imaginary, Girlpool’s latest sound defines a new, lovable era. Without a doubt, it’s their best work yet.
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After the release of Powerplant in 2017, the band’s dynamic began its evolution. Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker both took on solo projects, dedicating time to develop their art and come into their own. Although Tividad and Tucker started Girlpool’s discography by blending their voices within songs, What Chaos Is Imaginary takes advantage of their time apart, highlighting each singer’s individuality track by track. Tividad released “Where You Sink” and “Josephs Dad” almost a year ago on Oove Is Rare before adding a full band for the rerelease. Similarly, Tucker released “Lucy’s in the Sky” on Soundcloud back in 2017. Since then, however, Tucker (they/them) told i-D in an interview that they began taking testosterone as a part of their “gender flow.” Their post-hormones recording of the track, “Lucy’s”, serves as What Chaos Is Imaginary’s opener and instantly makes your jaw drop – and that’s just the beginning.
Unlike Girlpool’s previous albums, What Chaos Is Imaginary has a lo-fi lyrical tone. However, with heavy-hitting songs, this is a welcome tweak. On the album’s title track, Tividad’s voice is so soft and candy sweet that you don’t realize on first-listen that she’s reflecting on past trauma. Similarly, on “Hire”, Tucker channels the grit of Elliott Smith while wailing about how they’re unsure of starting anew.
Tucker and Tividad are lyrical powerhouses, and this album has the powerhouse instrumentals to complement their words. Luscious guitar melodies and steady drums carry on throughout the album but progressively get much softer in tone as the tracklist nears its end. Songs like the title track and “Roses” even make new use of strings and warm, electric synths, which add an extra “umph” to the album that their previous works lacked.
With all of Girlpool’s dynamic changes, it’s hard to predict where the duo will take us next. Regardless, if they’ve proved anything with What Chaos Is Imaginary, it’s that they’re like fine wine; they only get better with time.