City Paper is not for tourists
When the members of Brooklyn’s Vivian Girls found themselves fending off angry Internet chatter in the wake of a December video interview in which they blasted “normal people” and characterized anyone outside of the “punk subculture” as “really shitty,” their response was telling. They could’ve stood by their words and branded everyone who blasted them as overly sensitive, but instead bassist Kickball Katy offered a tail-between-her-legs apology. Katy suggested that she, guitarist Cassie Ramone, and drummer Ali Koehler were “definitely young” and “not being serious” when, in the course of expounding on the awesomeness of the punk rock community, they busted on folks who happy hour at Applebee’s and T.G.I. Friday’s. The response to the video seems to still be on their minds—or at least it was this past March when they went to California to record their sophomore effort, Everything Goes Wrong. Ramone told AOL’s Spinner that the album “chronicles the way being in a band strains your relationship with other people and how it’s hard to get attention thrown at you all of a sudden.” And maybe the album does do that, but with all the vocal reverb and harmonized mumbling, who can tell without a lyrics sheet? Effective chronicle of newfound celebrity pain or no, the most recent Vivian Girls release is considerably more aggressive than the band’s self-titled debut. Not that the Phil Spector-by-way-of-Psychocandy vibe has totally disappeared. “Tension” employs a stunning sonic wall of vocal harmony and guitar noise and throughout the album Koehler inserts beats that would, in another context, be perfectly worthy of a clap-along. But this time out, the very obvious pop influence is tinged with a fair amount of urgency: “Survival,” for example, cranks along at a pace that, unlike speed-similar tracks such as “All the Time” from the band’s debut, turns the outfit’s inherent sloppiness into the sort of edge-teetering stuff that can only come with real purpose. Less subtly, tracks “When I’m Gone” and “Out for the Sun” devolve into the mess of guitar chaos and cymbal wash that comes out when a musical outfit informed by a louder set of influences translates frustration and conflict into sound. In other words, Ramone, Katy, and Koehler have turned whatever stressors may have followed Vivian Girls around for the past few months into the impetus for a nearly unhinged effort. If this is all thanks to a ribbing from the snob police, one can only imagine the sound that might result from a few bad reviews.