On their third album, Girlpool expand their grungy, fuzzy style with a more carefully arranged, explorative record. It carries the same fire, and same eye for sharp emotional musings that the duo is known for, but this time, there's an elevated maturity and sense of daring that makes What Chaos is Imaginary a beautifully textured record to get lost in.
In the two years since 2017's Powerplant, Cleo Tucker, one half of Girlpool, transitioned from female to male, and What Chaos is Imaginary finds him weaving his new lower register with Harmony Tividad's dreamy high notes. There's a gorgeous, gritty vulnerability to Tucker's vocal style, and the tracks he leads sound like more deeply-felt, less condescending Mac Demarco songs. A wash of guitar noise backs Tucker's howl in the chorus of Hire, which has him considering what it means to change oneself: "Will I make the matinee?/With my newest life/And be that bright time."
There's a sameness to a number of songs that dilute their power – a few tracks merely blend into each other. But on their slower, ambient moments, Girlpool strike gold. Chemical Freeze opens with a gloomy guitar riff before exploding with hard-punch percussion – but it's gone before you know it, and the stunning song floats away with a reverb-heavy outro.
Title track What Chaos is Imaginary is a five-minute wonder that finds Tividad laying herself bare, ruminating on the remove between our heads and our bodies: "Got your head in the clouds/And two eyes on the shaking ground". Throughout What Chaos is Imaginary, Tucker and Tividad are on the outside looking in, and it results in their best album yet.
Artist, Album name
What Chaos is Imaginary
A fuzzed-out soundtrack to an affecting journey of self-reflection.