Just weeks after Mauled By Tigers dropped the original LP-only release of this, the Vivian Girls self-titled debut, the record was trading for near triple-digit sums as collector dweebs scoured every last nook and cranny for a copy they could flip on some dumb chump. Obviously, the inevitable backlash wasn’t too far behind, and the grumbling that this Brooklyn three-piece, with only a two-song single to their name, was somehow undeserving of the press, praise and inflated market value began to pick up.
The strange thing about all this is that the hype, valuation and subsequent rebukes of that status couldn’t have happened to a more unassuming bunch. Formed a couple of years back in Kings County, the Vivian Girls are hardly an original proposition, obviously indebted as they are to airy shoegaze and driving indie-punk, pursuing an overall aesthetic that’s already been mapped out by folks like Black Tambourine, Tiger Trap and a bunch of other bands that popped up on labels like K and 53rd and 3rd back in the day. If anything, big money prices have been transparently based not on the music the band plays, but on the bet that their overall style would be the next thing geeks would salivate over, and the resulting criticism a refutation not of the quality of the tunes, but of the values people assigned to them.
Really, then, it’s hard to imagine how anyone whose heart isn’t made of burnt coal could have much of a problem with the 10 songs the Vivian Girls cooked up for their debut. Though far from perfect, they flit by in an instant, all washes of trebly guitars and nervous vocals that leave enough heartwarming traces to warrant subsequent returns. Check the way the ladies tumble through “All the Time” and its percussive chorus, or how the moody pulse of the kick drum and a needling guitar accompaniment carries the climax of “Tell the World.” Likewise, “Where Do You Run To” sports some nifty three-part harmonies that carry its rote thump up a few levels. And it’s sincerely doubtful any other bands have wrung as much out of the word “No” as these three have on the crashing song of the same name.
All told, the Vivian Girls are yet another example of this latest “Buy first, ask questions later” school of record collecting, one in which the speed with which a band’s material disappears seems to move drastically faster than the discussion surrounding the music itself. It’s no fault of their own, however, as much of what they have released has ranged from mostly decent to fairly great. Now, with the widespread availability of this debut album, that discourse should be able to catch up, and allow these three to shift from the latest in a series of bizarre eBay bank-breakers to a pretty good band clearly capable of some amazing things in the not-too-distant future.