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Vivian Girls’ “Share the Love” is business as usual

While some people may think that girl rock groups are a thing of the past, clearly no one told Vivian Girls, a New York-based trio set to release their third album “Share the Joy” on April 12.

Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Vivian Girls comprises singer/guitarist Cassie Ramone, bassist Katy “Kickball Katy” Goodman and drummer Fiona Campbell, a new addition to the group since former member Ali Koehler left to join Best Coast.

In the past Vivian Girls has specialized in lo-fi garage rock, with quickly paced songs and abruptly brief albums (the band’s 10-track eponymous debut was a bit over 20 minutes). While the group makes some slight variations on this album, for the most part it’s more of the same.

One of the biggest departures is immediately noticeable as opening track “The Other Girls” clocks in at nearly six-and-a-half minutes as Ramone sings out, “I don’t want to live like the other girls/Don’t want to give like the other girls.” Interestingly, while the lyrics seem to indicate a desire to break out and be something different, the rest of the album doesn’t really confirm this at all.

That’s not to say there’s absolutely nothing new. Vivian Girls seems to have put an effort into really tightening up the quality of their music. The instrumentals just don’t feel as loose while still maintaining that fuzzy sound the band is so known for.

Ramone’s vocals similarly seem somewhat improved from past performances, but may be divisive to listeners, especially those hearing the band for the first time. Vivian Girls might defend her singing as fitting into the whole ’60s girl group style of the band, while critics may view it as droning and, at times, off key.

But it’s not all straight singing on the tracks, as the band also employs some spoken word in the album, most notably on “Take It As It Comes.” It’s a nice, fun touch, and done in a cute, joking-but-serious manner only a girl group could take advantage of.

The album mostly follows a uniform, “love and girl power”-centric theme throughout. While predictable for a group like Vivian Girls, it works for them since it’s not really the focus, never taking precedent over their music.

“Share the Joy” does a great job in preserving the Vivian Girls’ sound, for better or worse, despite the album opening and closing with songs that are more than six minutes long, well over the band’s average song length.

“Dance (If You Wanna)” and “I Heard You Say” are among the tracks on the album that feature the Vivian Girls at their best, playing their signature fast-paced garage rock.

Even so, “Share the Joy” doesn’t represent much of a step forward for the Vivian Girls. Most of the tracks are good-not-great or simply solid, but it would be difficult to pick one that really stands out or proves any major transformation for the band.

Fans should grab the album as it is Vivian Girls doing what they do best. While they didn’t add a whole lot compared to previous albums, they showed enough maturation that fans will be uniquely capable of recognizing and appreciating it.

But casual or first time listeners may want to skip “Share the Joy,” as the album can sound like a pretty generic girl-rock/pop mix. It’s a pretty safe album from Vivian Girls, but not a remarkable one.

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