On Monday, Christopher Owens of Girls announced his departure from the band, effectively dissolving the group. While Owens will most certainly embark on new projects, it’s incredibly sad to see such a fantastic partnership flare up and burn out so quickly. From their raw and infectious debut “Album,” to their tightened and refined “Broken Dreams Club” EP to the mature “Father, Son, Holy Ghost,” the legacy of Girls will now perhaps live on to become legendary like other short-lived but influential bands like Cream, The Stooges, Minor Threat, and The La’s.
Having straddled the end of the last decade and the beginning of our current one, Girls were a band without an era, their three records playing like timeless documents of pure music. Sure they bit riffs off Sonic Youth and a few others here and there, but their overall approach was distinctly their own and something that Owens will be likely unable to duplicate without Chet “JR” White’s handy production work and musicianship.
But replication is surely not the point for any great musician or band. Across those three years of record-making, the band kept their sound consistent while progressing with each new entry. Now that all has been said and done from the band, let’s take a few minutes to kick back and reminisce with an overhaul of their entire video collection — a handful of clips that emphasized their humor, melancholy, and ability to capture the spontaneity of youth.
For Girls’ debut single, the band had a song and video that musically was the late ’00s’ “Hey Jude” as well as our generation’s “1979″ video. Shot mostly in slow motion to match the song’s gorgeous dirge, the clip shows the band and their friends on an endless night out — drinking at their apartments, eating at diners, smoking on street corners, and watching the sun come up from a hill. The extensive footage in combination with the soaring ballad conveys the improvisational social gathering as if it were the most romantic and important thing ever. Could you really argue that nights like these aren’t?
“Lust For Life”
For “Lust for Life,” the band taps into the same spontaneous love-fest of “Hellhole Ratrace” but in a way that truly captures the essence of the summer of 2009 (the shot of the “New York Post” Michael Jackson obituary being a particularly nice touch). The song, which may stand as Girls’ most blissful odes to wishful thinking, has a video that makes you want to run out and enjoy life to its fullest and its video an unapologetic portrait of the beauty of hipsterdom.
“Album” is a record that was designed for the beach. On the swinging shuffle “Laura,” the band takes it there in “Brady Bunch” split-screen style.
Following their trend of clips showing the duo goofing around with a bunch of pretty girls, “Morning Light” plays around with backwards photography while Owens and the girls headbang to one of the band’s punkiest outings. JR White in particular seems to be having a lot of fun with the filming technique, spilling out a fruit bowl and having an off-camera hand pull on the table cloth for a surreal effect. Not being able to rock out myself to this song in a crowd might be my biggest regret of never seeing Girls play live.
Girls came back into videos a little differently with the clip for “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”‘s first single “Vomit.” Featuring a hot looking 1966 Ford Mustang in the lead role, high definition shots of the car cruising around the city are the main focus. Owens is revealed to be driving the car and he eventually picks up JR White and does not seem pleased about it. Maybe they broke up because White always needed a ride.
Sometimes you just want to go out there in a half-shirt and pick up the girl of your dreams in an expensive car. That’s exactly what Christopher Owens does in the video for “Honey Bunny” and he still even has time to rock out with the band in the end.
For Girls’ final video, the band chose not to make an appearance. Instead we see the day of a lonely, elderly woman which perfectly matches the sullen state of “My Ma.” It’s sad to think we won’t be seeing Owens and White hanging out and having a good times in videos anymore. The chemistry between the two is apparent even with the sound completely off. There was a musical bond between the two which helped produce three pretty amazing records. It’s with great hope that the two can go on to make music separately that will continue to make us all lust for life.