Girls: Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Father, Son, Holy Ghost

True Panther

Sep 16, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

“They don’t like my bony body/they don’t like my dirty hair,” Girls vocalist Christopher Owens sulks on “Honey Bunny,” and it’s already clear the band’s not doing much to change their image as mainstays of the American Apparel ad school of music.

Two years after their buzzy debut Album—buzzy in several ways; they admit to writing the album while under the influence of just about everything—Owens and Chet White, known as Girls, drop their second LP, Father, Son, Holy Ghost. While their debut was a snapping tear through breakups and despondency, sun-drenched in a Beach Boys veneer, Owens and White are now moping less and rocking more.

Alongside new drummer Darren Weiss and guitarist John Anderson, the San Francisco duo mostly resurrects their standard San Francisco surf rock. Tracks such as “Alex” and “My Ma” riff on the band’s traditional self-aware balladry. Other songs seem ripped straight from the oeuvre of Wolfmother (“Die”) and Pink Floyd (“Vomit”); the latter recalls the hazy Sonic Youth vibe of Album‘s “Hellhole Ratrace.” If this mishmash of styles sounds unoriginal, it’s because it is. One gets the sense that, even though they’re striving to evolve, Girls isn’t really trying to break out of their cage of self-awareness.

Owens grew up in a family involved with the Children of God cult, and his harrowing childhood has filtered into his songwriting, grazing everything with melancholy. “Seems like nobody’s happy now,” he drawls on “Just a Song,” and at times, you find yourself wincing along with him. But on the whole, the album feels like a parody of music’s tropes, limping along with no real soul. (

Author rating: 3/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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Jenn D
September 16th 2011

3/10?  Wow, I’m at a loss for words.

Mark T
September 16th 2011

“The San Francisco duo mostly resurrects their standard San Francisco surf rock”?  Really? I’ll give you “Honey Bunny” but nothing beyond that. What surf rock are you listening to? Also, “they admit to writing the album while under the influence of just about everything”? Everything? Really? I’d love to see citations on this. This is lazy, contrarian writing that makes UTR look BAD.

September 16th 2011

Agree with this review entirely. Thank god someone has the balls to hate on Girls. Album was good. This is not.

September 16th 2011

I read in an interview that Chris only writes songs under the influence of opiates and downers because it helps him focus on one thing.

I personally loved Father. It’s definitely different from Album and it does clearly draw influence from a lot of other artists, but it’s still Girls and it’s good.

September 16th 2011

Finally, someone calling out this album for what it really is: A total snoozefest. Thank you UtR.

September 17th 2011

@Mark - See this interview:

Puppy's Love
September 19th 2011

I came to Under The Radar hoping to find a review that would enhance my listening experience - give me a take on the album which was different, even educational. But this review…seemed like someone said, “here’s the new Girls album. Critics are gonna love it, so let’s be sure we’re the one magazine that doesn’t.” That’s not how you build credibility. It seems petty. I love the album, by the way. But that’s not why I dislike this review, which makes no mention of its sonic qualities. Ahhh, eat it!

Mark T
September 19th 2011

@Puppy’s Love Exactly. High-five.

September 19th 2011

I feel like any music journalist that reviews an album and gives it such a low rating, should at least explain why.  If they had recieved 10/10, I would still expect some kind of description of the album, and what made it so good.
  I don’t think that simply saying it “limps around with no real soul” and is unoriginal is sufficient.

September 20th 2011

Knee-jerk anti-Pitchfork contrarian is all.  Hey it generated lots of hits dinnit?  One of the 10 best albums of the year.

September 26th 2011

The problem with Under the Radar is that they only effectively review music that exists in a very small subset of music as a whole.  If there is experimentation with song structure of any kind it seems that UTR will inevitably dismiss it.  For anything other than straight-forward, acoustically driven indie music the reviews in this magazine cannot be trusted.

September 27th 2011

I’m not expecting everyone to love it, but how can you generalize such a diverse album?  I’d be impressed to hear these striking and vulnerable lyrics on any American Apparel ad, or to hear th deft and fluid transitions of “Die” on a Wolfmother CD.  The beauty of “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” is the seeming effortlessness with which Owens transcends genres and tempos.  Self-awareness is hardly a cage, but a tool and expression equally as potent as the carefree “F the world” attitude of bands like Wavves.

Look at me, I'm Jessica Misener, and I'm 'generati
September 28th 2011

“. . . the hazy Sonic Youth vibe of Album’s “Hellhole Ratrace.”

I could pick apart this shallow review line by nonsensical line (mainstays of the American Apparel ad school of music? break out of their cage of self-awareness? limping along with no real soul?) but this really just sums the ‘I am not actually interested in music as sound so much as image’ vibe of this review up because seriously, how the FUCK does Hellhole Ratrace have a Sonic Youth vibe?

Matthew Perpetua
October 13th 2011

I don’t really get the Sonic Youth comparison either, but I’m really glad to see that at least one publication went out on a limb and called this record out for being lazy and mediocre.

October 13th 2011

No one will be listening to this album in 3 month time. Mark it.

Mark T
October 13th 2011

@Matthew Perpetua This coming from a guy who champions Lady Gaga. Fuck off.

October 13th 2011

It’s a gorgeous, moving album. What’s this gist of the criticism here? (1) That the record is derivative, a charge that (as Chris Owens correctly points out) can be lodged at everyone from The Beatles forward, and (2) that it’s too “sad”? It’s precisely that melancholy, that ache, that connects with a lot of us about Girls, and there is plenty that’s hopeful about the songs as well. Owens doesn’t wallow in misery, and while one man’s “limp” is another’s “soul”, chalk me up in the soul column. I have not drank any Kool-Aid, but I know a special record when I hear one.
All that said, I highly doubt UtR commissioned a negative review simply to gratuitously be different, I most certainly don’t think “Father, Son…” will be forgotten in three months, and one 3/10 review aside, Girls will be just fine. Beyond fine.

George Harrison
November 18th 2011

I give this review one star- hilariously bad.

December 17th 2011

The first paragraph makes it seem like she a bigger problem with their fashion more than their music.

The Sonic Youth/Hellhole Ratrace graf just makes it apparent that it’s amateur hour.

Perhaps metacritic should re-think its criteria for who counts. This is petty blog hate stuff. It’s high school newspaper-level music criticism.

March 9th 2012

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Not jessica
March 22nd 2012

Fuck you jessica you cunt