What exactly does it take to silence the nonbelievers? The throngs and throngs of commentators that forever criticize a band’s craft? The ones that go so far as to judge a band simply on their name and never their merits? 2014 has given us a partial answer to this concern: the newest release from Black Girls.
What exactly does it take to silence the nonbelievers? The throngs and throngs of commentators that forever criticize a band’s craft? The ones that go so far as to judge a band simply on their name and never their merits? 2014 has given us a partial answer to this concern: the newest release from Black Girls. Claire Sinclaire is a friendly reminder of what everyone has grown to love about them, while also celebrating new ground broken by the Richmond outfit.
Having spent time at both Sound of Music and Montrose Recording, Black Girls have never sounded better and more confident. The lead track, “On The First Night,” supports this assessment. The opening lines confirm the familiarity of an audience, while using these intoxicated moments as a means of inviting strangers into the mix, to discover what all of the chatter is about. This invitation resonates throughout Claire Sinclaire, as Black Girls demonstrate their desire to make the point even clearer. They acknowledge their successes, but they aren’t finished yet. They will always have something to prove and they will always strive to make the kids in the back of the room pay just as much attention as the kids in the front singing along with every word.
“Banging L.A.” feels like the group at the grimiest of their early days. The band’s favored term for their music, “snuff rock,” is perfectly enunciated by this sludgy jam. This track is a particular favorite of mine. The moment in which vocalist Drew Gillihan reminds the band that a splendid guitar (or is it saxophone?) solo is enough, and it’s time to return to the song at hand, is a nice nod to the music of the past. And that isn’t even the best part. The song is structured so that the chorus never reveals itself until the end of the song, and “Banging L.A.” builds to that crescendo with a cavalier momentum.
Black Girls also succeed by channeling new influences on their new record. This might be a stretch but I hear tons of Tame Impala throughout. When looking at Tame Impala’s “Apocalypse Dreams” and how much of a sprawling sonic landscape it creates, it should come as no surprise that Black Girls would be up for the challenge of creating their own “Apocalypse Dreams.” Said creation is on full display with “Soul Tornado” (is there a slight Tyler, The Creator reference in this song?) and “Sometimes,” on which the group absorbs Tame Impala’s lush soundscapes and truly make them their own.
“Lover” is yet another standout on Claire Sinclaire. It might feel like a slight stray from the other pack of tunes, but it shows a matured execution of the 70s-derived stylistic fodder that makes Black Girls enjoyable time and time again. Closing track “Kaleidoscopes” pulls the same trick and succeeds. It’s a departure, but makes a perfect exit for a record that ensnares its audiences with tremendous hooks and boundless ambition.
After they spent time on the road with The Head and The Heart, it was difficult to assess what would be next for Black Girls. There may not have been another band in Richmond that had to deal with such a daunting challenge ahead of them. A sophomore slump could easily have followed, which would have crippled the group. Instead, they worked patiently and challenged not only their audience but themselves. Claire Sinclaire is a record worthy of all the praise the band has received, and a compelling argument for Black Girls remaining a mainstay in the eyes of Richmond music fans.
Black Girls are currently on tour in the South, but they’ll be back in town for The Broadberry‘s Grand Opening Celebration later this week. We’ll have more info on that whole event tomorrow, so keep an eye out!