On the True Panther Sounds record label website, a love letter written by label member Christopher Owens is published. Owens and Chet “JR” White are the two California boys who make up Girls. The letter’s subject is you and me: the fans. His confession that without us, their fantastic new EP, Broken Dreams Club wouldn’t exist is oozing with sincerity and endearment to a surprising and delightful degree, for I fear we are the ones who should be thanking them.
It starts out with “Thee Oh So Protective One,” an almost loungey, luxurious cruise ship dance tune. It has the kind of sound meant to be played on or by water, begging for a steel drum to make a cameo, but Girls know better than to ham it up that far. In all seriousness, it’s a well dichotomized song with an easy, rich and full sound with brilliant, almost majestic trumpet incorporation but then sad and unfortunate lyrics: “He’ll never know about the times that you cried in the movies, never know about the times that you cried to the music” and insecure reflections: “I wonder if he’s impressed/Should I have worn the other dress?” This first track is also a great introduction to Owen’s classic vocal style, conjuring that of Burt Bacharach.
White’s bass skills really shine through on “Heartbreaker.” The bass drives the song and adds an extra level of cool to this already radical song. It’s full of charm from the groovy, playful vocals, expert bass, innocent and earnest piano, 80s electric guitar riffs to the light, twinkly tambourine. This well polished song exhibits professional production and a band who means serious business, as far as quality is concerned.
There’s a significant country influence on the title track and on fittingly titled “Carolina,” the former with a somber blues tone actually quite in line with Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning. The muffled, raunchy horns add a nice ragtime jazz touch. “Carolina” is much more experimental but still carries the twangy, drawling, country guitar featured on “Broken Dreams Club.” “Carolina” is a delicious pop dish with booming lines delivered a capella, an oldies “do run run run do do run run” refrain in the background and trippy electronic effects.
“Substance,” if you couldn’t guess from the title, is about drugs: “If you want to shape your brain, I know a substance…that helps you rock and roll.” Ironically enough, it seems to be an anti-drug anthem mocking drug users and their absurd habits, and based on their West Coast, partially ex-hippie cult background (Owens hails from the Children of God cult – or movement – spawned during the 60s California drug phase), are probably mocking themselves: “You can do anything yeah, you can rock and roll outta control/Who wants something real when you could have nothing/Why not just give up, who wants to try.”
This record is buoyant, a little kitschy, and varying in styles. If you’re not already one of the addressees of Owens’ letter, listen o this EP immediately and find out what you’ll soon to be gushing over.