Album Reviews

God Help The Girl: God Help The Girl [Album Review]

God Help The Girl

God Help The Girl‘s debut, self-titled LP opens with a female touch on Belle & Sebastian’s “Act Of The Apostle”, one of the champion tracks off The Life Pursuit. In comparison to Murdoch’s other project, God Help The Girl gives it not only a female front but baroque backing vocals and an orchestra background heavy with strings. Title track “God Help The Girl” finds the ladies and Murdoch enveloping the track in the pop melody common in Belle & Sebastian, primarily found in the percussion, yet both the female vocals and up-front orchestra presence reside.

As the album continues, it becomes very apparent that the elements Murdoch injected into the Belle & Sebastian songs are, at best, minimal in God Help The Girl. Sure, select songs may reference the upbeat indie-pop percussion, or feature a vocal pattern common in B&S; what God Help The Girl does is leverage Murdoch’s name and fame while creating a refreshing sound far from the group we all cherish. This sound predates even the influences of Belle & Sebastian.

God Help The Girl also covers “Funny Little Frog” off The Life Pursuit. This song, contrary to many off the album, has a soulful power behind the vocals and instrumentation. Surprises like this pop up frequently throughout God Help The Girl. “Musician Please Take Heed” may open with minimal strings and soft vocals, but near the midpoint it becomes an orchestrated pop gem filled with emotive instrumental crecendos and decrecendos; these musical fluctuations make the song one of the album’s most worthy pinnacles.

But it’s not all surprise. Take “Act Of The Apostle” as prime fodder — while initially a head turner, the baroque jazz of the 50s and 60s heard in the orchestration is telltale. One familiar with the artists may think of a sax master like Paul Desmond. These songs reference the earliest of the girl groups, when orchestrated jazz first met pop music. It was apparent in the various communications Murdoch had with media that this would be the case. Even the true pop songs like “Perfection As A Helper” (which finds the ladies taking on backing vocals while Murdoch leads) and “Come Monday Night” fit these sensibilities.

God Help The Girl may not necessarily be suited for your parents’ parents’ favorite (or even your great grandparents’ favorite), Lawrence Welk, but then again the music they make is not far off. And only a musical genius like Stuart Murdoch would be able to make a Welk-worthy artist cool and hip for today’s youth.

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God Help The Girl by God Help The Girl

Matador Records [12″ LP, 2009]

1. Act Of The Apostle
2. God Help The Girl
3. Pretty Eve In The Tub
4. A United Theory
5. Hiding Neath My Umbrella
6. Funny Little Frog
7. If You Could Speak
8. Musician, Please Take Heed
9. Perfection As A Helper
10. Come Monday Night
11. The Music Room Window
12. I Just Want Your Jeans
13. I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie
14. A Down And Dusky Blonde

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