It’s been two years since Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker united as Girlpool to create “Before the World Was Big.” Now, the folk punk band is back for “Powerplant,” its sophomore album due out Friday.
Girlpool’s lyrics have taken a turn towards the complicated, far from the unambiguous croons of “Before the World Was Big.” “I feel safest in knowing that I am true when I look in your eyes,” sang Girlpool in 2015. Now, the band is a little jaded about that gaze: “I won't do what I ought to, my vacant stare I make to fool you,” sing Tividad and Tucker on single “It Gets More Blue.” Girlpool has never come across as naïve, but deception in “It Gets More Blue” foreshadows a more paranoid, cautious Girlpool.
The cover art for “Before the World Was Big” shows two children playing with blocks, illustrated in eye-popping primary colors. “Powerplant” features similar domestic subjects in its cover art. But now, rather than children in a cozy nursery, the muddled, subdued tones of “Powerplant’s” cover art show children standing outside among mountains and plains. The effect is chilling. Unambiguous and straightforward language, music and art belong to Girlpool’s youth. Two years after their debut album, life has grown more complicated.
Music videos for singles “123” and “It Gets More Blue” both have scenes at parties where Tividad and Tucker hover uncomfortably at the perimeter of unfamiliar rooms. In “It Gets More Blue,” party-goers wear gold masks while Tividad and Tucker, maskless, stand among the strangers and grasp each other, the only familiar faces in sight. “Just as Tividad and Tucker are anchors for each other, “Powerplant” begins to feel like an anchor for Girlpool.
The refuge “Powerplant” seems to be building provides a buffer against a world of unpleasantries and unknowns. Both in their 20s, Girlpool’s members continue to navigate the choppy waters of adulthood. They’re a little wiser, a little more confident than in “Before the World Was Big,” but their world has grown with them. “Powerplant” will be an arms race between Girlpool and their world to see who is stronger.
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