There has always been a certain magic to Girlpool.
The bond that duo Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker share is unlike any other. Girlpool stands out due to their lack of a drummer: Cleo’s guitar chords and picking fit perfectly with Harmony’s bass — or vice versa when they trade off. Their vocal styles also seem to have been made for each other and are instantly identifiable. Their music was perfect already without a drummer.
However, they began to change last year with their album Powerplant, which was the first to feature a drummer. Now, their new single “Picturesong” not only features drum tracks, but synthesizers and Dev Hynes of Blood Orange.
It seems that Girlpool somehow has already mastered the art of exploring; regardless of the additions they’re making, they manage to keep their dreamy, nostalgic and slightly melancholic sound that makes their music so unique.
In Powerplant, Girlpool strayed away from the home they had built with their previous album Before the World Was Big. However, they strayed away only to build a very similar home with the same furniture, just in a different place.
“Picturesong,” as Girlpool explained with the release, “[it] is a word invented to explore what we create in each other when we want to feel deep love because of loneliness or otherwise, and brings into question the reality and delusion of the things we feel.”
While this theme of desiring something unattainable may be tired and overdone, Girlpool has a way of taking feelings and making them their own, but still relatable. “Picturesong” is about wanting what you can’t have, but in a special Girlpool way. The lyrics are rawer and feel like the listener is looking at feelings through a stained-glass window rather than the usual foggy, rained-on window other artists seem to create.
“Picturesong” opens with soft guitar and drum track, which may already catch long-time listeners off guard. However, once Harmony and Cleo start singing, it’s like being home. “You’re a god charade I’ll let you down like a noise complaint / I know my cover’s blown” are the first words that are sung. The lyrics “What does holy want? / I’ll be that Picturesong” are a beautiful representation of a longing that is not mutual but persists. Most Girlpool tracks always have a line or two that hit the listener right where it hurts and in “Picturesong,” these are it. Everything is smooth and dreamy like a sad lullaby as the first and second verses slowly continue to unwind.
After the second verse, there is a guitar solo accompanied by some delicate piano. After this, the song reaches a climax of distortion. However, Harmony, Cleo and Dev continue to sing as gently as in the first two verses. “What does holy want? A wind-up picturesong.” There may be no chorus, but this line appears again and Girlpool’s explanation of the title word becomes clearer. When you want someone, you’re willing to become the idea you think they might want: their picturesong.
“Picturesong” explores the way we worship who we want and willingly lose ourselves, all for that person. However, it takes caution and finesse when delving into these emotions and it takes even more to paint them into something beautiful, which Girlpool and Dev Hynes have done. Most artists fall short of making vulnerabilities something shameless and, very often, when we listen to a song about being sad, we get sadder. This is not the case with “Picturesong.” Rather than walking through rain on a sad day, the song feels like lights and shadows playing at twilight: gentle and comforting, a reminder that it’s okay to feel.
No one is a stranger to unreturned affection and admiration. No one is a stranger to sadness. But if you claim to never have felt sadness, after listening to “Picturesong,” you’ll realize that at some point you have, even if you don’t even know when. Girlpool always makes you feel things you didn’t know you were capable of feeling and they just did it again.
Viri Garcia is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]