[sic] Magazine

Little Girls – Concepts

There are three types of lo-fi. Due to budget constraints, one is recorded badly because it has to be. Recently this sort of thing has done very well, and minor labels haven’t bothered to touch up the rough and ready sound. This is because of the success of the second type of lo-fi, of which there are two distinct threads. The first of these uses sonically-challenged equipment for nostalgic and stylistic reasons, the second uses perfectly functional equipment and then mashes the masters purely for aesthetic purposes. Both have to be carefully done so as to avoid voracious style over substance claims.

Toronto’s multi-instrumentalist Little Girls , who usually goes by the name of Josh McIntyre , seems to belong to the latter category and balances his output well. His Tambourine EP from June 09 piqued the interest of the blogosphere and with raw takes on wall-of-sound surf-rock post-punk he naturally ticks a lot of contemporary boxes.

Concepts lurches into life with the ridiculously likeable “Youth Tunes”. It’s full of Wire -like tension and New Order riffs, driven by drum machine pulses it allows for a spoken sample to jabber as waves of guitars compete to kill lazy lo-fi competition. Rival chords duel it out on the mid-tempo guitarwork of “Seeing” while a faster synth beat provides urgency.

The titular highlight from the Tambourine EP again dominates its host, similar to what has gone before but with devastating bass and atmospherics jammed up in the red. McIntyre’s vocal is here, like everywhere, lost in a sea of fuzz, his lyrics no more than rhythmic incantations devoid of meaning.

Variety is short on the ground but it doesn’t matter as McIntyre knows the value of brevity, cutting most tracks breathlessly short. The album’s title track takes the pace down just a touch, coming on like Joy Division playing down a well, the buzzsaw riffs again crowing out their majesty. The only disappointment comes on “Imaginary Friends”, which is closer to the playground petulance of Wavves than Little Girls’ otherwise all-conquering canon.

The downright awesome post-punk action found on “Salt Swimmers” should come with a health warning. It plays tight guitar angles off against crunching drumming and outrageously catchy vocal patterns. It deconstructs itself mid-track before any permanent damage is done to the listener building back with genuine excitement into a crescendo that sadly never comes.

Wanting more, “Thrills” and “Departure” are thrust speaker-wards providing momentary respite before the massive bass lines of “Venom” clash with nervous post-punk shredding. “Last Call” is also well up there, working its way through excitable rhythms and discordant melodies with swagger and sneer. “Growing” closes Concepts back in Ian Curtis country and is achingly familiar. Backed with the irrepressible drum machine, it echoes anthemically punching the air in triumph to the tightest of tight finishes.

Catching the lo-fi zeitgeist at its zenith, though obvious, Concepts is infectious, admirable and utterly indispensible.

Concepts gets its UK release on May 9th 2010, available elsewhere now.