“Before the World Was Big” by Girlpool

June 02. 2015 | By Wayne Jessup


Before the World Was Big
[Wichita Recordings]

From house parties to opening for Jenny Lewis and Waxahatchee, from Bandcamp to Wichita Recordings in short order, Girlpool (Harmony Tividad and Chloe Tucker) bucked the odds with their girl-centric view and unorthodox drum-free lineup. Dialing back the aggression of last year’s calling card self-titled EP, the duo arrive at their full-length debut, Before The World Was Big. In between the releases there was a move from their native Los Angeles to Philadelphia, and that move, combined with full-on touring, made for a lot of new experiences.

Kyle Gilbride (Waxahatchee, Swearin’) handles the boards, and it’s the perfect choice – someone dialed in enough to capture the intimacy without intrusion. In the web of two voices, guitar, and bass, there’s not a huge safety net, and the record’s biggest triumph is how they can bend that setup in so many different ways. Dynamics and attention to detail are the key, with “Cherry Picking” holding the banner for the former. The guitar burst at the end of “Ideal World” and the vocal gymnastics finalizing the title track represent the latter.

Highlights abound, from the hushed charms of “Dear Nora” to the standout “Chinatown.” The scope of time shifts from childhood to what seems like yesterday, but the triumph of Before The World Was Big is that they’ve survived and grown, together, telepathic harmonies intact.

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