<em>Share the Joy</em>
[Rating: 3 stars]
On Share the Joy, the third album (and their first on Polyvinyl) from all-girl Brooklyn trio Vivian Girls, the band sounds like it’s teetering on the edge of something – a breakthrough perhaps, or maybe that’s a breakdown we’re seeing on the horizon. This record almost sounds like a step forward for the group, but it all depends on your point of view – sure, those trademark ethereal, mildly-off-key vocals are still there, and if you hated them for the first two records, you’ll probably still hate them. But behind the vocals, the musicianship has improved significantly, bolstering the garage rock with some solid drumbeats and sneaky, raucous guitar jamming. Most of the tracks are somewhat more defined than they have been in the past, which is a good thing, but it winds up taking the energy down a few notches – a loss that is completely worth it, in this reviewer’s opinion. The trio has also veered away from the short, psychedelic blasts of albums past and experimented with some longer, more arching tracks, which they pull off with aplomb.
First single “I Heard You Say” manages to be fearful and dark (“No he’ll never hold me in his arms again / So cold,” Cassie Ramone wails) while functioning as a scratchy summer bike riding song, and “Dance (If You Wanna)” channels straight 60s pop – albeit through Vivian Girls’ super fuzz filter. Best of all, pop gem “Take It As It Comes” sounds appealingly like a lost Shangri-Las song, and everyone knows we need some more of those. Ultimately, this album will not convince any non-believers. But fans will find a lot to love, and perhaps even notice and enjoy the increased quality of musicianship as they bask in that all-girl garage-fuzz-pop glow and inch towards a future in hi-fi.