Girlpool, “Chinatown”

Bryn Lovitt

When the gently plucked verse of Girlpool’s most recently released single “Chinatown” explodes into those soul-splitting harmonies that have thrust this tiny band into the collective heart of contemporary DIY pop, it is clear that we are not simply dealing with a pair of guitar-wielding vocalists, but sharp-tongued American poets. The melody meanders in contrast to how direct the lyrics are. The words manage to capture both the fractured dynamic of the band itself while also addressing the caustic vacuum between vexed adolescence and looming adulthood: “I am nervous for tomorrow and today.” From looking at pictures to staring in mirrors, the metaphors in “Chintatown” balance a fixed time and place with a wandering state of mind. The critical moment comes at the lyric, “Do you feel restless when you realize you’re alive/a lie?” That last word is audibly deceptive yet painstakingly apt in both its mutations, as “alive” devolves into “a lie”. Released alongside the single is a short-video collage of Harmony and Cleo exploring thrift shops and livings rooms, riding carousels at the mall, and stepping directly into the song as they walk around Chinatown on a cloudy afternoon.

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