Vivian Girls’ whole backward-looking aesthetic has always seemed pretty besides the point. With so much interesting art going on currently, just aping some old trends seems like the work of stunted artists. It’s one thing to look backward for ideas and to then modify them in some way. It’s another thing to turn your entire act into pastiche. It seems politically offensive to me in some way, too, as if by aesthetically aping the past, one’s ignoring the present day political world. Or, it could just be me. It’s just a fun band, right?
It was surprising then that Share the Joy strikes me as a pretty good album. Not great and certainly not something I’m anxious to listen to, but enjoyable. Songs like “The Other Girls” and “Light In Your Eyes” are well-composed and have great melodies. The rest of the album never attains the highs of these, the opening and closing numbers, but there’s enough engaging pop in-between to hold one’s attention.
Of course, there’s still bullshit like “Take It As It Comes,” where they’re wearing the skin of Lesley Gore, or “Death,” which is about wanting to stay alive until the narrator can be, assumedly, some hunky dude’s bride. I get that it’s ironic, and they’re having a laugh at their peers, but that doesn’t actually make me want to spend three minutes on it. It’s like a stand-up wasting a set doing ironic Dane Cook jokes. We get it. He’s shitty. Why not work on your own material now?
But if Share the Joy is the direction Vivian Girls are going in, I’m interested in seeing how it plays out.