Secret Meeting score: 63
by Philip Moss
Much has been made in the run up to Girlpool’s third LP release about the gender reassignment process that lead singer, Cleo Tucker, has undertaken. So for fans of the LA pair’s first two records, you may do a double take when opener, Lucy’s, kicks in.
Not only is Tucker’s voice much deeper – due to a masculinising hormone. The opener is far more muscular in sound as distorted shoegaze guitars swarm his Brian Jonestown Massacre-evoking melodies with bassist, Harmony Tividad, adding helium-high backing vocals to ensure the song retains a pop sensibility.
Tividad takes on lead vocals on the Belle and Sebastian evoking Stale Device, as well as the Frankie Cosmos homages Where You Sink and Pretty, which are both nice enough, but not much more. While Hire, by far the record’s weakest song, feels totally throwaway. The undoubted highlight, however, is the album’s centrepiece, All Blacked Out, which sees Tucker’s voice up front and paired with a beautiful soundscape. The spiralling, mournful guitars reminiscent of Cut Your Bangs from the band’s 2015 EP, Chinatown.
In many ways, What Chaos is Imaginary feels like a new beginning for Girlpool. It’s just a shame that, at times, it feels like it lacks its own identity.