by Allison Kridle
It doesn’t feel that long ago since Girlpool released their junior album Powerplant in 2017, but a lot has happened in these past two years, and the singer songwriters Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad have made good use of the gap. After the talented duo released their newest LP What Chaos Is Imaginary, many listeners referred to it as a transitional and transformational album, which it could very well be, but it emits more growth and stability than anything they have produced yet. Tucker and Tividad sound like they are right where they need to be and are thriving.
Besides the diversity of instrumentals and complexity of Girlpool’s arrangements, the change in vocal dynamics is the most prominent reason why this release contrasts so heavily to earlier albums. Tucker came out last year as transgender and he now rocks a tenor. The two singer’s vocals used to be almost indistinguishable from each other, but their harmonies allow you to hear more depth and facets in their songs.
Girlpool doesn’t exactly pose the question what chaos is imaginary sans question mark, but maybe they didn’t think or care about grammatics. Maybe they only set the idea there and you can take it however you wish. To say the least, the track in which the album is named after is lush and ripe and riddles me with goosebumps. In “What Chaos is Imaginary.” the atmospheric organ and Tividad’s angelic falsetto serve as the backbone of the song. It is also one of the few tracks where you can hear Tividad and Tucker sing alone together alongside the elastic drums and a crying violin. It is a track that beams so bright.
There is an undeniable distinction between the songs where Tucker has power over the mic and when Tividad does. In the track “Swamp and Bay,” Tucker is accompanied by an up-beat, winded melody and fuzz, equipped with electric guitar squeals. He sings, “People crash their car/Try to get your attention, know who they are/They’re gonna move you.” There is not much space in between each chord progression and beat, but there is just enough to move freely.
Whereas, Tividad sounds like she is floating through air, making her way across twinkling lights and fuzz. “Where You Sink” probably shows that best. It may appear delicate at first when Tividad sings almost quietly with a raw guitar, but then explodes all at once with the rest of the band in tow. She sings, “You look like a kid from outer space/Always trying to plan your next escape/(don't they know how gravity drowns?),” next to distorted guitar riffs and a rich twangy melody.
Both musicians illustrate their differing styles and perhaps instrumental preferences, but they always work well together. Girlpool is not just one entity or two, but multiple. It is apparent that Tucker and Tividad have grown into their music and will keep moving forward like they have been for the last five years since their first self-titled EP. No matter what the chaos, they’ll be a forever team.