Vivian Girls: Memory (Polyvinyl) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, February 27th, 2021  

Vivian Girls



Sep 19, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

No one saw this coming. Recorded in secret in the fall of 2018, the fourth Vivian Girls album (and first since 2011's excellent Share the Joy and their subsequent breakup in 2014) is an unmitigated triumph.

Instead of picking up where the longer song structures and more experimental instrumentation choices on Share the Joy left off, though, they double down on the quickness, urgency, and intensity of 2009's second LP Everything Goes Wrong. This is fitting since Memory is the only other album in their catalog featuring current drummer Ali Koehler. Like that record and their first, self-titled LP, most of the songs are in the two minutes or less range and it's over before you know it, so it invites many repeat spins.

Memory is far from Everything Goes Wrong part two, though. The production duties are handled by Rob Barbato, who has worked with singer/guitarist/songwriter Cassie Ramone in her other band The Babies as well as with bassist Katy Goodman in her band La Sera. In fact, some of the songs on this album reminds me of the Cassie-sung songs on Our House on the Hill, the excellent second and, to date, last album by The Babies from 2012. The slower moments are few here, but the four-minute plus "Lonely Girl" provides a necessary breather.

The lyrical perspective is another change from old. More specifically reflective (on moving cities in "Your Kind of Life") than anything in their past, this is the work of women in their 30s who refuse to be defined by their past, but who haven't forgotten their roots, either. It's a complicated trick to pull it off, but it's a testament to their immense talent that they not only can, but make it look and sound easy. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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