It's always hard to judge a throwback band. Are they paying homage, in love with nostalgia or just plagiarizing? The retro-rock sounds of San Francisco's Girls don't make this debate any easier. Combining sunny California folk-rock with bits of psych-rock, garage, surf-rock and even Motown, the tunes on Album will leave you with that nagging "I know what this sounds like ..." feeling. But these songs seem more like found rarities than blatant reconstructions. Singer-songwriter Christopher Owens' pleading voice, classic song structures and recognizable cadences indicate a passion for rock's traditions. "Ghostmouth" is a heartbroken '50s waltz. "Headache" sounds like it was written for a psychedelic beach-flick. And "Lust for Life" is Buddy Holly meets Beach Boys. But Girls are no shtick act posing in antiquated clothing; Owens isn't trying to play a character or fulfill some fantasy. He's heard contemporary music — he's just not a fan, as one listen to Album will confirm. — Matt Whelihan
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