Vivian Girls Everything Goes Wrong

[In the Red; 2009]

Styles: punk with a shitgaze sheen
Others: Tiger Trap, early Aisler’s Set, The No No’s, The Black Tambourines

Something was bothering me about Everything Goes Wrong, something I couldn't pinpoint for the longest time. Is it the production? Not a bad place to start, as it is bound to be fairly controversial to shitgazers, but that's not it. Is it the vocals, which never change in volume, pitch, tone, or mood, EVER? Again, not a bad place to start, but that's not it either...

And then I realize that it's much simpler than that: these songs feel rushed. "Can't Get Over You" is the epicenter of this dearth, being as bored, disaffected, and awkward as a 12-year-old boy and as flat as a 12-year-old girl. Slotted in at track #3, the song, with its limp melody and staid approach to a time-honored subject (eclipses of the heart and such), serves as a brick wall for listeners to attempt to crash through, and it really, really HURTS.

The moaning, groaning, and bemoaning will get your goat/grind your gears and overpowers even the reasonably tight guitar, bass, and drums. I can just envision Cassie Ramone checking her texts in between the constant complaining of "Tension," which feels too sorry for itself to make anyone care. It sort of reminds me of the stereotypes dumped on female characters in movies: They're often transparent and prone to extreme emotion without much cause. This is exactly how I feel when I listen to a song like "Tension," which sounds like someone whining AT me rather than WITH me. Even the album title seems a bit maudlin.

These problems, along with the aforementioned flat-as-a-crepe, repetitive vocals -- which is a shame because the deadpan-fem thing can really work wonders -- subvert the charms of Everything Goes Wrong with too much muck to recover. Even its strongest tracks are hard to find. Cuts like "When I'm Gone," with its light-winged harmonies, get buried at #8 and amount to a too-little-too-late situation.

Not that you'll be able to tell the cash from the clunkers after a few listens anyway. With 13 songs to sit through, it all sounds like the same riffs, verses, choruses, and rhythms in slightly different contexts. It also sounds like a big disappointment from a band that roared out of the gate with several nice 7-inch cuts and a strong debut album. Could it be because the never-ending hype machine mounted unnecessary pressure on a band that should have had more time to develop? I hate to keep beating the same brow over and over, but it looks like Vivian Girls are another casualty of an avalanche of hype that would have taken a lot longer to swell to extreme size Back in the Day.

1. Walking Alone at Night
2. I Have No Fun
3. Can't Get Over You
4. Desert
5. Tension
6. Survival
7. The End
8. When I'm Gone
9. Out for the Sun
10. I'm Not Asleep
11. Double Vision
12. You're My Guy
13. Before I Start to Cry

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